Nod factor-induced root hair curling: continuous polar growth towards the point of nod factor application

J.J. Esseling, F.G.P. Lhuissier, A.M.C. Emons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


A critical step in establishing a successful nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between rhizobia and legume plants is the entrapment of the bacteria between root hair cell walls, usually in characteristic 180degrees to 360degrees curls, shepherd's crooks, which are formed by the host's root hairs. Purified bacterial signal molecules, the nodulation factors (NFs), which are lipochitooligosaccharides, induce root hair deformation in the appropriate host legume and have been proposed to be a key player in eliciting root hair curling. However, for curling to occur, the presence of intact bacteria is thought to be essential, Here, we show that, when spot applied to one side of the growing Medicago truncatula root hair tip, purified NF alone is sufficient to induce reorientation of the root hair growth direction, or a full curl. Using wild-type M. truncatula containing the pMtENOD11::GUS construct, we demonstrate that MtENOD11::GUS is expressed after spot application. The data have been incorporated into a cell biological model, which explains the formation of shepherd's crook curls around NF-secreting rhizobia by continuous tip growth reorientation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1982-1988
JournalPlant Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • lipo-oligosaccharide signals
  • symbiotic host-specificity
  • rhizobium-meliloti
  • medicago-truncatula
  • nodulation factors
  • vicia-sativa
  • lipochito-oligosaccharide
  • transgenic alfalfa
  • free calcium
  • plant-cells

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