We isolated a recessive symbiotic mutant of Lotus japonicus that defines a genetic locus, LOT1 (for low nodulation and trichome distortion). The nodule number per plant of the mutant was about one-fifth of that of the wild type. The lot1 mutant showed a moderate dwarf phenotype and distorted trichomes, but its root hairs showed no apparent differences to those of the wild type. Infection thread formation after inoculation of Mesorhizobium lot1 was repressed in lot1 compared to that in the wild type. The nodule primordia of lot1 did not result in any aborted nodule-like structure, all nodules becoming mature and exhibiting high nitrogen fixation activity. The mutant was normally colonized by mycorrhizal fungi, lot1 also showed higher sensitivity to nitrate than the wild type. The grown-up seedlings of lot1 were insensitive to any ethylene treatments with regard to nodulation, although the mutant showed normal triple response on germination. It is conceivable that a nodulation-specific ethylene signaling pathway is constitutively activated in the mutant. Grafting experiments with lot1 and wild-type seedlings suggested that the root genotype mainly determines the low nodulation phenotype of the mutant, while the trichome distortion is regulated by the shoot genotype. Grafting of har1-4 shoots to lot1 roots resulted in an intermediate nodule number, i.e. more than that of lot1 and less than that of har1-4. Putative double mutants of lot1 and har1 also showed intermediate nodulation. Thus, it was indicated that LOT1 is involved in a distinct signal transduction pathway independent of HAR1.