Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



Plant Physiol. (1983) 71, 797-802


Root nodules were harvested from chamber-grown soybean (Glycine max L. Merril cv Woodworth) plants throughout development. Apparent nitrogenase activity (acetylene reduction) peaked before seeds began to develop, but a significant amount of activity remained as the seeds matured. Nodule senescence was defined as the period in which residual nitrogenase activity was lost. During this time, soluble protein and leghemoglobin levels in the host cell cytosol decreased, and proteolytic activity against azocasein increased. Degradative changes were not detected in bacteroids during nodule senescence. Total soluble bacteroid protein per gram of nodule remained constant, and an increase in proteolytic activity in bacteroid extracts was not observed. These results are consistent with the view that soybean nodule bacteroids are capable of redifferentiation into free-living bacteria upon deterioration of the legume-rhizobia symbiosis.