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Concept: Legumes


The anticancer effects of legumes have been explored extensively, but evidence from epidemiologic studies on colorectal adenoma is controversial. We performed a meta-analysis to assess these issues.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Observational study, Meta-analysis, Legume, Legumes


Presumptive tests for blood play a critical role in the examination of physical evidence and in the determination of subsequent analysis. The catalytic power of hemoglobin allows colorimetric reactions employing phenolphthalein (Kastle-Meyer test) to indicate “whether” blood is present. Consequently, DNA profiles extracted from phenolphthalein-positive stains are presumed to be from blood on the evidentiary item and can lead to the identification of “whose” blood is present. Crushed nodules from a variety of legumes yielded phenolphthalein false-positive reactions that were indistinguishable from true bloodstains both in color quality and in developmental time frame. Clothing and other materials stained by nodules also yielded phenolphthalein false-positive reactivity for several years after nodule exposure. Nodules from leguminous plants contain a protein (leghemoglobin) which is structurally and functionally similar to hemoglobin. Testing of purified leghemoglobin confirmed this protein as a source of phenolphthalein reactivity. A scenario is presented showing how the presence of leghemoglobin from nodule staining can mislead investigators.

Concepts: Plant, Nitrogen, Nitrogen fixation, Color, Fabaceae, Legume, Legumes, Vicia


Most species in the Leguminosae (legume family) can fix atmospheric nitrogen (N₂) via symbiotic bacteria (rhizobia) in root nodules. Here, the literature on legume-rhizobia symbioses in field soils was reviewed and genotypically characterised rhizobia related to the taxonomy of the legumes from which they were isolated. The Leguminosae was divided into three sub-families, the Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae and Papilionoideae. Bradyrhizobium spp. were the exclusive rhizobial symbionts of species in the Caesalpinioideae, but data are limited. Generally, a range of rhizobia genera nodulated legume species across the two Mimosoideae tribes Ingeae and Mimoseae, but Mimosa spp. show specificity towards Burkholderia in central and southern Brazil, Rhizobium/Ensifer in central Mexico and Cupriavidus in southern Uruguay. These specific symbioses are likely to be at least in part related to the relative occurrence of the potential symbionts in soils of the different regions. Generally, Papilionoideae species were promiscuous in relation to rhizobial symbionts, but specificity for rhizobial genus appears to hold at the tribe level for the Fabeae (Rhizobium), the genus level for Cytisus (Bradyrhizobium), Lupinus (Bradyrhizobium) and the New Zealand native Sophora spp. (Mesorhizobium) and species level for Cicer arietinum (Mesorhizobium), Listia bainesii (Methylobacterium) and Listia angolensis (Microvirga). Specificity for rhizobial species/symbiovar appears to hold for Galega officinalis (Neorhizobium galegeae sv. officinalis), Galega orientalis (Neorhizobium galegeae sv. orientalis), Hedysarum coronarium (Rhizobium sullae), Medicago laciniata (Ensifer meliloti sv. medicaginis), Medicago rigiduloides (Ensifer meliloti sv. rigiduloides) and Trifolium ambiguum (Rhizobium leguminosarum sv. trifolii). Lateral gene transfer of specific symbiosis genes within rhizobial genera is an important mechanism allowing legumes to form symbioses with rhizobia adapted to particular soils. Strain-specific legume rhizobia symbioses can develop in particular habitats.

Concepts: Gene, Bacteria, Species, Symbiosis, Rhizobia, Fabaceae, Legumes, Faboideae


Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is the most extensively cultivated forage legume in the world, and salinity stress is the most problematic environmental factors limiting alfalfa production. To evaluate alfalfa tissue variations in response to salt stress, comparative physiological and proteomic analyses were made of salt responses in the roots and shoots of the alfalfa.

Concepts: Nitrogen fixation, Proteomics, Fabaceae, Legume, Legumes, Alfalfa, Medicago, Hay


Rhizobia play important roles in agriculture owing to their ability to fix nitrogen through a symbiosis with legumes. The specificity of rhizobia-legume associations means that underused legume species may depend on seed inoculation with their rhizobial partners. For black medic (Medicago lupulina) and lucerne (Medicago sativa) little is known about the natural prevalence of their rhizobial partner Ensifer meliloti in UK soils, so that the need for inoculating them is unclear. We analysed the site-dependence of rhizobial seed inoculation effects on the subsequent ability of rhizobial communities to form symbioses with four legume species (Medicago lupulina, M. sativa, Trifolium repens and T. pratense). At ten organic farms across the UK, a species-diverse legume based mixture (LBM) which included these four species was grown. The LBM seed was inoculated with a mix of commercial inocula specific for clover and lucerne. At each site, soil from the LBM treatment was compared to the soil sampled prior to the sowing of the LBM (the control). From each site and each of the two treatments, a suspension of soils was applied to seedlings of the four legume species and grown in axenic conditions for six weeks. Root nodules were counted and their rhizobia isolated. PCR and sequencing of a fragment of the gyrB gene from rhizobial isolates allowed identification of strains. The number of nodules on each of the four legume species was significantly increased when inoculated with soil from the LBM treatment compared to the control. Both the proportion of plants forming nodules and the number of nodules formed varied significantly by site, with sites significantly affecting the Medicago species but not the Trifolium species. These differences in nodulation were broadly reflected in plant biomass where site and treatment interacted; at some sites there was a significant advantage from inoculation with the commercial inoculum but not at others. In particular, this study has demonstrated the commercial merit of inoculation of lucerne with compatible rhizobia.

Concepts: Nitrogen, Fabaceae, Legumes, Faboideae, Trifolium pratense, Medicago, Clover, Trifolium


Biomass yield, salt tolerance and drought tolerance are important targets for alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) improvement. Medicago truncatula has been developed into a model plant for alfalfa and other legumes. By screening a Tnt1 retrotransposon-tagged M. truncatula mutant population, we identified three mutants with enhanced branching. Branch development determines shoot architecture which affects important plant functions like light acquisition, resource use and ultimately impacts biomass production. Molecular analyses revealed that the mutations were caused by Tnt1 insertions in the SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE 8 (SPL8) gene. The M. truncatula spl8 mutants had increased biomass yield, while overexpression of SPL8 in M. truncatula suppressed branching and reduced biomass yield. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis showed that SPL8 inhibited branching by directly suppressing axillary bud formation. Based on the M. truncatula SPL8 sequence, alfalfa SPL8 (MsSPL8) was cloned and transgenic alfalfa plants were produced. MsSPL8 downregulated or upregulated alfalfa plants exhibited similar phenotypes to the M. truncatula mutants or overexpression lines, respectively. Specifically, the MsSPL8 downregulated alfalfa plants showed up to 43% increase in biomass yield in the first harvest. The impact was even more prominent in the second harvest, with up to 86% increase in biomass production compared to the control. Furthermore, downregulation of MsSPL8 led to enhanced salt and drought tolerance in transgenic alfalfa. Results from this research offer a valuable approach to simultaneously improve biomass production and abiotic stress tolerance in legumes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Model organism, Fabaceae, Scanning electron microscope, Legume, Legumes, Alfalfa, Medicago, Medicago truncatula


Plasma membrane intrinsic proteins (PIPs), which belong to aquaporins (AQPs) superfamily, are subdivided into two groups, PIP1 and PIP2, based on sequence similarity. Several PIP2s function as water channels, while PIP1s have low or no water channel activity, but have a role in water permeability through interacting with PIP2. A cold responsive PIP2 named as MfPIP2-7 was isolated from Medicago falcata (hereafter falcata), a forage legume with great cold tolerance, and transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing MfPIP2-7 were analyzed in tolerance to multiple stresses including freezing, chilling, and nitrate reduction in this study.

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Plant, Tobacco, Transmembrane protein, Legume, Legumes, Aquaporin 2


Overexpression of SPS in alfalfa is accompanied by early flowering, increased plant growth and an increase in elemental N and protein content when grown under N 2 -fixing conditions. Sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS; EC is the key enzyme in the synthesis of sucrose in plants. The outcome of overexpression of SPS in different plants using transgenic approaches has been quite varied, but the general consensus is that increased SPS activity is associated with the production of new sinks and increased sink strength. In legumes, the root nodule is a strong C sink and in this study our objective was to see how increasing SPS activity in a legume would affect nodule number and function. Here we have transformed alfalfa (Medicago sativa, cv. Regen SY), with a maize SPS gene driven by the constitutive CaMV35S promoter. Our results showed that overexpression of SPS in alfalfa, is accompanied by an increase in nodule number and mass and an overall increase in nitrogenase activity at the whole plant level. The nodules exhibited an increase in the level of key enzymes contributing to N assimilation including glutamine synthetase and asparagine synthetase. Moreover, the stems of the transformants showed higher level of the transport amino acids, Asx, indicating increased export of N from the nodules. The transformants exhibited a dramatic increase in growth both of the shoots and roots, and earlier flowering time, leading to increased yields. Moreover, the transformants showed an increase in elemental N and protein content. The overall conclusion is that increased SPS activity improves the N status and plant performance, suggesting that the availability of more C in the form of sucrose enhances N acquisition and assimilation in the nodules.

Concepts: Amino acid, Enzyme, Nitrogen, Nitrogen fixation, Fabaceae, Legume, Legumes, Alfalfa


Performance of nymphs and adults of Piezodorus guildinii (Westwood) feeding on different cultivated legumes was studied under controlled laboratory conditions (25 ± 1°C, 80 ± 10% RH, 14 h of photophase) on soybean immature pod (SIP; R5.5-R6), birdsfoot trefoil immature pod (BTIP), alfalfa immature pod (AIP), and red clover flower with immature seeds (RCF). Food had significant effects on the life history of P. guildinii. The major differences in nymph survivorship were observed at second and third instars, with similar survivorship on SIP and AIP as hosts and higher than that recorded on BTIP and RCF. Total nymph mortality was much greater on BTIP (87.6%) than on SIP (32.6%) and AIP (54.2%); all nymphs died on RCF. Food did not affect nymph development time (about 20 days). Adult longevity was highest and lowest on AIP and RCF (62 and 32 days), respectively. Percentage of ovipositing females was highest (≈80%) on SIP and AIP, and intermediate on BTIP (52.2%); no females reproduced on RCF. Fecundity on SIP and AIP was similar (≈9 egg masses/female; and ≈141 eggs/female) and twice as higher than on BTIP (4.1 egg masses/female; and 60.2 eggs/female). Egg fertility (58%) did not vary with food sources. Adults fed on SIP and AIP gained weight during 43 days, remained unaltered on BTIP, and decreased on RCF. Data obtained indicated that SIP and AIP are suitable food sources, and emphasize the importance of alfalfa as a host plant of P. guildinii in Uruguay.

Concepts: Plant, Food, Fabaceae, Seed, Legume, Legumes, Alfalfa, Clover


The entire world is facing a deteriorating environment. Understanding the mechanisms underlying plant responses to external abiotic stresses is important for breeding stress-tolerant crops and herbages. Phytohormones play critical regulatory roles in plants in the response to external and internal cues to regulate growth and development. Medicago falcata is one of the stress-tolerant candidate leguminous species and is able to fix atmospheric nitrogen. This ability allows leguminous plants to grow in nitrogen deficient soils.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Species, Plant, Nutrient, Nitrogen, Nitrogen fixation, Legume, Legumes