A genome-scale metabolic reconstruction of soybean and Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens reveals the cost-benefit of nitrogen fixation.
Holland BL., Matthews ML., Bota P., Sweetlove LJ., Long SP., diCenzo GC.
Nitrogen-fixing symbioses allow legumes to thrive in nitrogen-poor soils at the cost of diverting some photoassimilate to their microsymbionts. Effort is being made to bioengineer nitrogen fixation into nonleguminous crops. This requires a quantitative understanding of its energetic costs and the links between metabolic variations and symbiotic efficiency. A whole-plant metabolic model for soybean (Glycine max) with its associated microsymbiont Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens was developed and applied to predict the cost-benefit of nitrogen fixation with varying soil nitrogen availability. The model predicted a nitrogen-fixation cost of c. 4.13 g C g-1 N, which when implemented into a crop scale model, translated to a grain yield reduction of 27% compared with a non-nodulating plant receiving its nitrogen from the soil. Considering the lower nitrogen content of cereals, the yield cost to a hypothetical N-fixing cereal is predicted to be less than half that of soybean. Soybean growth was predicted to be c. 5% greater when the nodule nitrogen export products were amides versus ureides. This is the first metabolic reconstruction in a tropical crop species that simulates the entire plant and nodule metabolism. Going forward, this model will serve as a tool to investigate carbon use efficiency and key mechanisms within N-fixing symbiosis in a tropical species forming determinate nodules.