Hakoyama T, Oi R, Hazuma K, Suga E, Adachi Y, Kobayashi M, Akai R, Sato S, Fukai E, Tabata S, Shibata S, Wu GJ, Hase Y, Tanaka A, Kawaguchi M, Kouchi H, Umehara Y, Suganuma N.
Soluble N-Ethylmaleimide Sensitive Factor Attachment Protein Receptor (SNARE) proteins are crucial for signal transduction and development in plants. Here, we investigate a Lotus japonicus symbiotic mutant defective in one of the SNARE proteins. When in symbiosis with rhizobia, the growth of the mutant was retarded compared with that of the wild-type plant. Although the mutant formed nodules, these exhibited lower nitrogen fixation activity than the wild type. The rhizobia were able to invade nodule cells, but enlarged symbiosomes were observed in the infected cells. The causal gene, designated LjSYP71 (for L. japonicus syntaxin of plants71), was identified by map-based cloning and shown to encode a Qc-SNARE protein homologous to Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) SYP71. LjSYP71 was expressed ubiquitously in shoot, roots, and nodules, and transcripts were detected in the vascular tissues. In the mutant, no other visible defects in plant morphology were observed. Furthermore, in the presence of combined nitrogen, the mutant plant grew almost as well as the wild type. These results suggest that the vascular tissues expressing LjSYP71 play a pivotal role in symbiotic nitrogen fixation in L. japonicus nodules.