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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-57
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number1
Early online date5 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • evolution
  • Frankia
  • nitrogen-fixing root nodules
  • rhizobia


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