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The effect of acidity on the production of signal molecules by Medicago roots and their recognition by Sinorhizobium

Watkin, E.L.J., Mutch, L.A., Rome, S., Reeve, W.G., Castelli, J.M., Gruchlik, Y., Best, W.M., O'Hara, G.W. and Howieson, J.G. (2009) The effect of acidity on the production of signal molecules by Medicago roots and their recognition by Sinorhizobium. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 41 (1). pp. 163-169.

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The Medicago sativa–Sinorhizobium symbiosis is challenged by acidity, resulting in generally poor nodulation and production. Medicago murex, however, can nodulate and grow at low pH. The effect of low pH on signal exchange in the Sinorhizobium–Medicago symbiosis was studied to gain a greater understanding of the basis for poor nodulation of M. sativa compared to M. murex. Root exudates from M. sativa and M. murex grown in buffered nutrient solution at pH 4.5, 5.8 and 7.0, were collected to measure the expression of nodB induction in Sinorhizobium. A nodB–gusA fusion was constructed and inserted into Sinorhizobium medicae strains WSM419 (acid tolerant) and CC169 (acid sensitive). We identified greater induction by root exudates from both Medicago spp. collected at pH 4.5 than at pH 5.8 and 7.0, less induction by M. murex than M. sativa and less induction of WSM419 than CC169. The same major inducing compounds, 4′,7-dihydroxyflavanone (liquiritigenin), 4′,7-dihydroxyflavone, and 2′,4′,4-trihydroxychalcone (isoliquiritigenin), were identified in exudates of M. murex and M. sativa at all pH values, although in increasing amounts at lower pH. Poor nodulation of M. sativa relative to M. murex under acid conditions is not the consequence of decreased induction of Sinorhizobium nodB by chemical inducers present in the root exudates of both species at low pH.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: 2008 Elsevier Ltd
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