3 years ago

A Biosensor-Based Leaf Punch Assay for Glutamine Correlates to Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation Measurements in Legumes to Permit Rapid Screening of Rhizobia Inoculants under Controlled Conditions.

Manish N Raizada, Malinda S Thilakarathna, Nicholas Moroz
Legumes are protein sources for billions of humans and livestock. These traits are enabled by symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF), whereby root nodule-inhabiting rhizobia bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen (N) into usable N. Unfortunately, SNF rates in legume crops suffer from undiagnosed incompatible/suboptimal interactions between crop varieties and rhizobia strains. There are opportunities to test much large numbers of rhizobia strains if cost/labor-effective diagnostic tests become available which may especially benefit researchers in developing countries. Inside root nodules, fixed N from rhizobia is assimilated into amino acids including glutamine (Gln) for export to shoots as the major fraction (amide-exporting legumes) or as the minor fraction (ureide-exporting legumes). Here, we have developed a new leaf punch based technique to screen rhizobia inoculants for SNF activity following inoculation of both amide exporting and ureide exporting legumes. The assay is based on measuring Gln output using the GlnLux biosensor, which consists of Escherichia coli cells auxotrophic for Gln and expressing a constitutive lux operon. Subsistence farmer varieties of an amide exporter (lentil) and two ureide exporters (cowpea and soybean) were inoculated with different strains of rhizobia under controlled conditions, then extracts of single leaf punches were incubated with GlnLux cells, and light-output was measured using a 96-well luminometer. In the absence of external N and under controlled conditions, the results from the leaf punch assay correlated with (15)N-based measurements, shoot N percentage, and shoot total fixed N in all three crops. The technology is rapid, inexpensive, high-throughput, requires minimum technical expertise and very little tissue, and hence is relatively non-destructive. We compared and contrasted the benefits and limitations of this novel diagnostic assay to methods.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01714

DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01714

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