Nodule performance within a changing environmental context

Published in Journal of Plant Physiology 171 (12) : 1076-1090, 2014

Aranjuelo, I.Arrese-Igor, C.Molero, G.

Global climate models predict that future environmental conditions will see alterations in temperature, water availability and CO2 concentration ([CO2]) in the atmosphere. Climate change will reinforce the need to develop highly productive crops. For this purpose it is essential to identify target traits conditioning plant performance in changing environments. N2 fixing plants represent the second major crop of agricultural importance worldwide. The current review provides a compilation of results from existing literature on the effects of several abiotic stress conditions on nodule performance and N2 fixation. The environmental factors analysed include water stress, salinity, temperature, and elevated [CO2]. Despite the large number of studies analysing [CO2] effects in plants, frequently they have been conducted under optimal growth conditions that are difficult to find in natural conditions where different stresses often occur simultaneously. This is why we have also included a section describing the current state of knowledge of interacting environmental conditions in nodule functioning. Regardless of the environmental factor considered, it is evident that some general patterns of nodule response are observed. Nodule carbohydrate and N compound availability, together with the presence of oxygen reactive species (ROS) have proven to be the key factors modulating N2 fixation at the physiological/biochemical levels. However, with the exception of water availability and [CO2], it should also be considered that nodule performance has not been characterised in detail under other limiting growth conditions. This highlights the necessity to conduct further studies considering these factors. Finally, we also observe that a better understanding of these metabolic effects of changing environment in nodule functioning would require an integrated and synergistic investigation based on widely used and novel protocols such as transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and stable isotopes.

C/N metabolism, climate change, Journal of Plant Physiology, N2 fixation, Nodule, Omic methodologies

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