Organogenesis of legume root nodules begins with the nodulation factor-dependent stimulation of compatible root cells to initiate divisions, signifying an early nodule primordium formation event. This is followed by cellular differentiation, including cell expansion and vascular bundle formation, and we previously showed that Lotus japonicus NF-YA1 is essential for this process, presumably by regulating three members of the SHORT INTERNODES/STYLISH (STY) transcription factor gene family. In this study, we used combined genetics, genomics and cell biology approaches to characterize the role of STY genes during root nodule formation and to test a hypothesis that they mediate nodule development by stimulating auxin signalling. We show here that L. japonicus STYs are required for nodule emergence. This is attributed to the NF-YA1-dependent regulatory cascade, comprising STY genes and their downstream targets, YUCCA1 and YUCCA11, involved in a local auxin biosynthesis at the post-initial cell division stage. An analogous NF-YA1/STY regulatory module seems to operate in Medicago truncatula in association with the indeterminate nodule patterning. Our data define L. japonicus and M. truncatula NF-YA1 genes as important nodule emergence stage-specific regulators of auxin signalling while indicating that the inductive stage and subsequent formation of early nodule primordia are mediated through an independent mechanism(s).
- root nodule