Alfalfa controls nodulation during the onset of Rhizbium-induced cortical cell division

Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, Peter M. Gresshoff

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The formation of first nodules inhibits subsequent nodulation in younger regions of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) roots by a feedback regulatory mechanism that controls nodule number systemically (G Caetano-Anollés, WD Bauer [1988] Planta 175: 546-557). Following inoculation with wild-type Rhizobium meliloti, almost all infections associated with cortical cell division developed into mature nodules. While the distribution of Rhizobium-induced cell divisions closely paralleled the distribution of first emergent nodules, only 9 to 15% of total cell division foci failed to become functional nodules. Nodule formation was restricted to the primary root when plants were inoculated before lateral root emergence. Excision of these primary root nodules allowed nodules to reappear in lateral roots clustered around the location of the root tip at the time of nodule removal. Apparently, this region regained susceptibility to infection within the first hours after excision of primary nodules and suppression of nodulation was restored a day later probably due to the development of new infection foci. Our results suggest that alfalfa controls nodulation during the onset of cell division in the root cortex and not during infection development as in soybean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-373
Number of pages8
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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