Legume plants engage in intimate relationships with rhizobial bacteria to form nitrogen-fixing nodules, root-derived organs that accommodate the microsymbiont.Members of the Nuclear Factor Y (NF-Y) gene family, which have undergone significant expansion and functional diversification during plant evolution, are essential for this symbiotic liaison. Acting in a partially redundant manner, NF-Y proteins were shown, previously, to regulate bacterial infection, including selection of a superior rhizobial strain, and to mediate nodule structure formation. However, the exact mechanism by which these transcriptional factors exert their symbiotic functions has remained elusive. By carrying out detailed functional analyses of Lotus japonicus mutants, we demonstrate that LjNF-YA1 becomes indispensable downstream from the initial cortical cell divisions but prior to nodule differentiation, including cell enlargement and vascular bundle formation. Three affiliates of the SHORT INTERNODES/STYLISH transcription factor gene family, called STY1, STY2, and STY3, are demonstrated to be among likely direct targets of LjNF-YA1, and our results point to their involvement in nodule formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science