ROS production during symbiotic infection suppresses pathogenesis-related gene expression

Smadar Peleg-Grossman, Naomi Melamed-Book, Alex Levine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Leguminous plants have exclusive ability to form symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria of the genus Rhizobium. Symbiosis is a complex process that involves multiple molecular signaling activities, such as calcium fluxes, production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and synthesis of nodulation genes. We analyzed the role of ROS in defense gene expression in Medicago truncatula during symbiosis and pathogenesis. Studies in Arabidopsis thaliana showed that the induction of pathogenesis-related (PR) genes during systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is regulated by NPR1 protein, which resides in the cytoplasm as an oligomer. After oxidative burst and return of reducing conditions, the NPR1 undergoes monomerization and becomes translocated to the nucleus, where it functions in PR genes induction. We show that ROS production is both stronger and longer during symbiotic interactions than during interactions with pathogenic, nonhost or common nonpathogenic soil bacteria. Moreover, root cells inoculated with Sinorhizobium meliloti accumulated ROS in the cytosol but not in vacuoles, as opposed to Pseudomonas putida inoculation or salt stress treatment. Furthermore, increased ROS accumulation by addition of H2O2 reduced the PR gene expression, while catalase had an opposite effect, establishing that the PR gene expression is opposite to the level of cytoplasmic ROS. In addition, we show that salicylic acid pretreatment significantly reduced ROS production in root cells during symbiotic interaction.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)409-415
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Signaling and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • PR genes
  • Pathogenesis
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Rhizobium
  • Symbiosis


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