Fine mapping of the Rj4 locus, a gene controlling nodulation specificity in soybean

Fang Tang, Shengming Yang, Jinge Liu, Muqiang Gao, Hongyan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Leguminous plants have the ability to make their own nitrogen fertilizer by forming a root nodule symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria, collectively called rhizobia. This biological process plays a critical role in sustainable agriculture because it reduces the need for external nitrogen input. One remarkable property of legume-rhizobial symbiosis is its high level of specificity, which occurs at both inter- and intra-species levels and takes place at multiple phases of the interaction, ranging from initial bacterial infection and nodulation to late nodule development associated with nitrogen fixation. Knowledge of the molecular mechanisms controlling symbiotic specificity will facilitate the development of new crop varieties with improved agronomic potential for nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. In this report, we describe fine mapping of the Rj4 locus, a gene controlling nodulation specificity in soybean (Glycine max). The Rj4 allele prevents the host plant from nodulation with many strains of Bradyrhizobium elkanii, which are frequently present in soils of the southeastern USA. Since B. elkanii strains are poor symbiotic partners of soybean, cultivars containing an Rj4 allele are considered favorable. We have delimited the Rj4 locus within a 57-kb genomic region on soybean chromosome 1. The data reported here will facilitate positional cloning of the Rj4 gene and the development of genetic markers for marker-assisted selection in soybean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-700
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Breeding
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank Dr. Peter van Berkum (US Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD, USA) for the B. elkanii strain USDA61. This research was supported by a competitive grant from the US Department of Agriculture–Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (Grant 2009-65300-05663) (to H.Z.).


  • Host specificity
  • Legume
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nodulation
  • Soybean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Plant Science


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