The effect of exogenous nitrate on LCO signalling, cytokinin accumulation, and nodule initiation in Medicago truncatula

Gühl, Kerstin; Holmer, Rens; Xiao, Ting Ting; Shen, Defeng; Wardhani, Titis A.K.; Geurts, René; Zeijl, Arjan van; Kohlen, Wouter


Nitrogen fixation by rhizobia is a highly energy-demanding process. Therefore, nodule initiation in legumes is tightly regulated. Environmental nitrate is a potent inhibitor of nodulation. However, the precise mechanism by which this agent (co)regulates the inhibition of nodulation is not fully understood. Here, we demonstrate that in Medicago truncatula the lipo-chitooligosaccharideinduced accumulation of cytokinins is reduced in response to the application of exogenous nitrate. Under permissive nitrate conditions, perception of rhizobia-secreted signalling molecules leads to an increase in the level of four cytokinins (i.e., iP, iPR, tZ, and tZR). However, under high-nitrate conditions, this increase in cytokinins is reduced. The ethylene-insensitive mutant Mtein2/sickle, as well as wild-type plants grown in the presence of the ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor 2-aminoethoxyvinyl glycine (AVG), is resistant to the inhibition of nodulation by nitrate. This demonstrates that ethylene biosynthesis and perception are required to inhibit nodule organogenesis under high-nitrate conditions.