Distinct lotus japonicus transcriptomic responses to a spectrum of bacteria ranging from symbiotic to pathogenic

Simon Kelly, Terry Mun, Jens Stougaard, Cécile Ben, Stig U. Andersen

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Lotus japonicus is a well-studied nodulating legume and a model organism for the investigation of plant-microbe interactions. The majority of legume transcriptome studies have focused on interactions with compatible symbionts, whereas responses to non-adapted rhizobia and pathogenic bacteria have not been well-characterized. In this study, we first characterized the transcriptomic response of L. japonicus to its compatible symbiont, Mesorhizobium loti R7A, through RNA-seq analysis of various plant tissues. Early symbiotic signaling was largely Nod factor-dependent and enhanced within root hairs, and we observed large-scale transcriptional reprogramming in nodule primordia and mature nitrogen-fixing nodules. We then characterized root transcriptional responses to a spectrum of L. japonicus interacting bacteria ranging from semi-compatible symbionts to pathogens. M. loti R7A and the semi-compatible strain Sinorhizobium fredii HH103 showed remarkably similar responses, allowing us to identify a small number of genes potentially involved in differentiating between fully and semi-compatible symbionts. The incompatible symbiont Bradyrhizobium elkanii USDA61 induced a more attenuated response, but the weakest response was observed for the foliar pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000, where the affected genes also responded to other tested bacteria, pointing to a small set of common bacterial response genes. In contrast, the root pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum JS763 induced a pronounced and distinct transcriptomic pathogen response, which we compared to the results of the other treatments. This comparative analysis did not support the concept that an early defense-like response is generally evoked by compatible rhizobia during establishment of symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1218
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Legume
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nodulation
  • Pathogen
  • Plant-microbe interaction
  • Rhizobia
  • RNA-seq
  • Symbiosis


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