Effects of the Brown Seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, on the Nodulation and Growth of Alfalfa
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The effect of Ascophyllum nodosum extracts on the nodulation and growth of alfalfa was investigated. Plant growth assay revealed that alfalfa treated with 2 g L-1 ANE exhibited a significant increase in leaf area. Under salt stress, alfalfa treated with 0.5 g L-1 ANE exhibited a significant increase in total length compared to controls. A root hair deformation assay indicated that ANE 0.5 g L-1 stimulated the synthesis of Nod factors secreted by rhizobia thus accelerate root hair deformation of alfalfa. Similarly, ANE 0.5 g L-1 caused an increase in nodC gene expression suggesting that ANE may act similarly to flavonoids in the rhizobium-legume symbiosis. Under field conditions, ANE increased the total number of functional nodules, total root length and total leaf area. Taken together, the results suggest that ANE may contain compound(s) that promote specific metabolic pathway both in alfalfa and bacterium thus enhance the symbiotic relationship.