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Arabidopsis Thaliana Interaction With Ensifer Meliloti Can Support Plant Growth Under N-deficiency

Grace Armijo, Tatiana Kraiser, María P. Medina, Diana E. Gras, Ana Zúñiga, Bernardo González, Rodrigo A. Gutiérrez

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ABSTRACTNitrogen (N) is an essential macronutrient for plants. Some plant species obtain this nutrient by interacting with N-fixing bacteria. These beneficial interactions are well described in legumes but have also been observed in non-legume plant species that are unable to form root nodules. We studied the expanding role of beneficial plant-bacteria interactions for N-nutrition in the widely used model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that the bacteria Ensifer meliloti enhanced A. thaliana growth under severe N-deficiency conditions, allowing plants to complete their life cycle. Our results showed that bacteria colonize the rhizosphere associated with the epidermis of the plant root. We also demonstrated that A. thaliana possesses genes that are critical for this beneficial interaction and are required for plant-growth promotion by E. meliloti under N-deficiency.This work shows association between A. thaliana and E. meliloti for plant nutrition under severe N-deficiency, and suggests that plants have conserved-molecular mechanisms to interact with N-fixing bacteria to procure N and escape adverse conditions. Under these circumstances, the supply of N via N-fixation is critical for survival, allowing the plant to complete its life cycle. Our findings provide a new framework and an experimental model system that expand our understanding of plant-rhizobia interactions for plant N-nutrition.