A Resurrected Scenario : Single Gain and Massive Loss of Nitrogen-Fixing Nodulation

Velzen, Robin van; Doyle, Jeff J.; Geurts, Rene


Root nodule endosymbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria provides plants with unlimited access to fixed nitrogen, but at a significant energetic cost. Nodulation is generally considered to have originated in parallel in different lineages, but this hypothesis downplays the genetic complexity of nodulation and requires independent recruitment of many common features across lineages. Recent phylogenomic studies revealed that genes that function in establishing or maintaining nitrogen-fixing nodules are independently lost in non-nodulating relatives of nitrogen-fixing plants. In our opinion, these data are best explained by a scenario of a single gain followed by massively parallel loss of nitrogen-fixing root nodules triggered by events at geological scale.