In Wisconsin, a group from the University of Wisconsin – Madison published a massive atlas of plant and bacterial proteins that interact in a symbiotic process between plant and microbe. The publication details more than 23,000 plant and bacterial proteins and the molecular controls by which they execute the beneficial relationship. The atlas shows in minute detail the interplay of proteins as rhizobia colonize root nodules on the model legume Medicago truncatula.
The new atlas was compiled using potent new mass spectroscopy technology. By understanding the mechanics of nitrogen fixation at an unprecedented level of detail the new atlas could ultimately help inform a strategy for engineering the nitrogen-fixing ability of legumes into other plants.
The Wisconsin researchers stress that while the new protein atlas will be an important cipher for decoding the molecular details of nitrogen fixation symbiosis, the goal of conferring the trait on plants other than legumes remains in the distant future.