Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biological Sciences


The collection of symbiotic (sym) mutants of white sweetclover (Melilotus alba Desr.) provides a developmental sequence of mutants blocked early in infection or nodule organogenesis. Mutant phenotypes include non-nodulating mutants that exhibit root-hair deformations in response to Rhizobium meliloti, mutants that form ineffective nodules lacking infection threads, and mutants that form infection threads and ineffective nodules. Mutant alleles from both the sym-1 and the sym-3 loci exhibited a non-nodulating phenotype in response to R. meliloti, although one allele in the sym-1 locus formed ineffective nodules at a low frequency. Spot-inoculation experiments on a non-nodulating allele in the sym-3 locus indicated that this mutant lacked cortical cell divisions following inoculation with R. meliloti. The auxin transport inhibitor N-(1-naphthyl)phthalamic acid elicited development of pseudonodules at a high frequency on all of the sweetclover sym mutants, including the non-nodulating mutants, in which the early nodulin ENOD2 was expressed. This suggests that N-(1-naphthyl)phthalamic acid activates cortical cell divisions by circumventing a secondary signal transduction event that is lacking in the non-nodulating sweetclover mutants. The sym-3 locus and possibly the sym-1 locus appear to be essential to early host plant responses essential to nodule organogenesis.