Proteomic analysis dissects the impact of nodulation and biological nitrogen fixation on Vicia faba root nodule physiology

authored by
Beate Thal, Hans Peter Braun, Holger Eubel

Key message: Symbiotic nitrogen fixation in root nodules of legumes is a highly important biological process which is only poorly understood. Root nodule metabolism differs from that of roots. Differences in root and nodule metabolism are expressed by altered protein abundances and amenable to quantitative proteome analyses. Differences in the proteomes may either be tissue specific and related to the presence of temporary endosymbionts (the bacteroids) or related to nitrogen fixation activity. An experimental setup including WT bacterial strains and strains not able to conduct symbiotic nitrogen fixation as well as root controls enables identification of tissue and nitrogen fixation specific proteins. Abstract: Root nodules are specialized plant organs housing and regulating the mutual symbiosis of legumes with nitrogen fixing rhizobia. As such, these organs fulfill unique functions in plant metabolism. Identifying the proteins required for the metabolic reactions of nitrogen fixation and those merely involved in sustaining the rhizobia:plant symbiosis, is a challenging task and requires an experimental setup which allows to differentiate between these two physiological processes. Here, quantitative proteome analyses of nitrogen fixing and non-nitrogen fixing nodules as well as fertilized and non-fertilized roots were performed using Vicia faba and Rhizobium leguminosarum. Pairwise comparisons revealed altered enzyme abundance between active and inactive nodules. Similarly, general differences between nodules and root tissue were observed. Together, these results allow distinguishing the proteins directly involved in nitrogen fixation from those related to nodulation. Further observations relate to the control of nodulation by hormones and provide supportive evidence for the previously reported correlation of nitrogen and sulfur fixation in these plant organs. Additionally, data on altered protein abundance relating to alanine metabolism imply that this amino acid may be exported from the symbiosomes of V. faba root nodules in addition to ammonia. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD008548.

Institute of Plant Genetics
Plant molecular biology
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Agronomy and Crop Science, Genetics, Plant Science
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