Symbiosis specificity in the legume - rhizobial mutualism

Dong Wang, Shengming Yang, Fang Tang, Hongyan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Legume plants are able to engage in root nodule symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria, collectively called rhizobia. This mutualistic association is highly specific, such that each rhizobial species/strain interacts with only a specific group of legumes, and vice versa. Symbiosis specificity can occur at multiple phases of the interaction, ranging from initial bacterial attachment and infection to late nodule development associated with nitrogen fixation. Genetic control of symbiosis specificity is complex, involving fine-tuned signal communication between the symbiotic partners. Here we review our current understanding of the mechanisms used by the host and bacteria to choose their symbiotic partners, with a special focus on the role that the host immunity plays in controlling the specificity of the legume - rhizobial symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-342
Number of pages9
JournalCellular Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Virology


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