Transgenic alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. cv Regen) roots carrying genes encoding soybean lectin or pea (Pisum sativum) seed lectin (PSL) were inoculated with Bradyrhizobium japonicum or Rhizobium leguminosarum bv viciae, respectively, and their responses were compared with those of comparably inoculated control plants. We found that nodule-like structures formed on alfalfa roots only when the rhizobial strains produced Nod factor from the alfalfa-nodulating strain, Sinorhizobium meliloti. Uninfected nodule-like structures developed on the soybean lectin-transgenic plant roots at very low inoculum concentrations, but bona fide infection threads were not detected even when B. japonicum produced the appropriate S. meliloti Nod factor. In contrast, the PSL-transgenic plants were not only well nodulated but also exhibited infection thread formation in response to R. leguminosarum bv viciae, but only when the bacteria expressed the complete set of S. meliloti nod genes. A few nodules from the PSL-transgenic plant roots were even found to be colonized by R. leguminosarum bv viciae expressing S. meliloti nod genes, but the plants were yellow and senescent, indicating that nitrogen fixation did not take place. Exopolysaccharide appears to be absolutely required for both nodule development and infection thread formation because neither occurred in PSL-transgenic plant roots following inoculation with an Exo- R. leguminosarum bv viciae strain that produced S. meliloti Nod factor.
Fujishige, Nancy A. et al. “Sugar-binding activity of pea lectin enhances heterologous infection of transgenic alfalfa plants by Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae.” Plant physiology vol. 126,1 (2001): 133-44.