Interactions between plants and the soil’s microbial & fungal flora are crucial for the health of soil ecosystems and food production. Microbe-plant interactions are difficult to investigate in situ due to their intertwined relationship involving morphology and metabolism. Here, we describe an approach to overcome this challenge by elucidating morphology and the metabolic profile of Medicago truncatula root nodules using Magnetic Resonance (MR) Microscopy, at the highest magnetic field strength (22.3 T) currently available for imaging. A home-built solenoid RF coil with an inner diameter of 1.5 mm was used to study individual root nodules. A 3D imaging sequence with an isotropic resolution of (7 μm)3 was able to resolve individual cells, and distinguish between cells infected with rhizobia and uninfected cells. Furthermore, we studied the metabolic profile of cells in different sections of the root nodule using localised MR spectroscopy and showed that several metabolites, including betaine, asparagine/aspartate and choline, have different concentrations across nodule zones. The metabolite spatial distribution was visualised using chemical shift imaging. Finally, we describe the technical challenges and outlook towards future in vivo MR microscopy of nodules and the plant root system.
van Schadewijk, R., Krug, J. R., Shen, D., Sankar Gupta, K. B. S., Vergeldt, F. J., Bisseling, A. H. J., ... Alia, A. (2020). Magnetic Resonance Microscopy at Cellular Resolution and Localised Spectroscopy of Medicago truncatula at 22.3 Tesla. Scientific Reports, 10(1), . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-57861-7