Mathesius Group - Root microbe interactions - symbionts to parasites

Legumes form a beneficial symbiosis with nitrogen fixing bacteria called rhizobia, that leads to the formation of root nodules. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms controlling nodule development in legumes. In particular, we are studying the relationship of nodule development with that of lateral roots and galls induced by parasitic nematodes. All three organogenesis programs involve a redirection of auxin transport and response. One of our aims is to identify the mechanism by which auxin transport is controlled in the different organogenesis programs. Our main focus is on the role of flavonoids in controlling auxin transport and responses, as well as on other functions of flavonoids in the communication between roots and soil microbes.



Ulrike Mathesius

Ulrike Mathesius
Dr Ulrike Mathesius received her Dipl. Biol. (BSc Hons) at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany in 1995. She...

Adjunct Fellow

Divisional Visitor

Emeritus Professor

Honours Student

Laboratory Technician

PhD Student

Postdoctoral Fellow

Technical Assistant

Visiting Fellow


Open to students


Selected publications

  • Ng JLP, Mathesius U (2018) Acropetal auxin transport inhibition is involved in indeterminate but not determinate nodule formation. Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 169.
  • Kohlen W, Ng JLP, Deinum EE, Mathesius U (2017) Auxin transport, metabolism and signaling during nodule initiation: Indeterminate and determinate nodules. Journal of Experimental Botany 69: 229-244.
  • Liu Y, Hassan S, Kidd BN, Garg G, Mathesius U, Singh KB, Anderson J (2017) Ethylene signaling is important for isoflavonoid mediated resistance to Rhizoctonia solani in Medicago truncatula. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 30: 691-700
  • Van Noorden GE, Verbeek R, Dinh QD, Jin J, Green A, Ng JLP, Mathesius U (2016) Molecular signals controlling the inhibition of nodulation by nitrate in Medicago truncatula. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 17: 1060.
  • Goh C-H, Nicotra AB, Mathesius U.(2016) The presence of nodules on legume root systems can alter phenotypic plasticity in response to internal nitrogen independent of nitrogen fixation. Plant, Cell and Environment 39: 883-896
  • Ng JLP, Hassan, S, Truong TT, Hocart CH, Laffont C, Frugier F, Mathesius U (2015) Flavonoids and auxin transport inhibitors rescue symbiotic nodulation in the Medicago truncatula cytokinin perception mutant cre1. Plant Cell 27: 2210-2226
  • Veliz-Vallejos DF, van Noorden GE, Mengqi Y and Mathesius U (2014) A Sinorhizobium meliloti-specific N-acyl homoserine lactone quorum-sensing signal increases nodule numbers in Medicago truncatula independent of autoregulation. Frontiers in Plant Science 5: 551.
  • Mortier V, Wasson A, Jaworek P, De Keyser A, Decroos M, Holsters M, Tarkowski P, Mathesius U, Goormachtig S (2014) Role of LONELY GUY genes in indeterminate nodulation on Medicago truncatula. New Phytologist 202: 582-593.
  • Goh C-H, Veliz-Vallejo DF, Nicotra AB, Mathesius U (2013) The impact of beneficial plant-associated microbes on plant phenotypic plasticity. Journal of Chemical Ecology 39:826–839
  • Jin J, Watt M and Mathesius U (2012) The autoregulation gene SUNN mediates changes in root organ formation in response to nitrogen through alteration of shoot-to-root auxin transport. Plant Physiology 159: 489-500.
  • Hassan, S. and Mathesius, U. (2012) The role of flavonoids in root-rhizosphere signaling - opportunities and challenges for improving plant-microbe interactions. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 3429-3444.
  • Teplitski M, Mathesius U and Rumbaugh KB (2011) Quorum sensing signal perception and degradation by mammalian and plant cells. Chemical Reviews 111: 100-116.
  • Grunewald W., van Noorden G.E., van Isterdael G., Beeckman T., Gheysen G. and Mathesius U (2009). Manipulation of auxin transport in plant roots during Rhizobium symbiosis and nematode parasitism. Plant Cell 21: 2553-2562. 
  • Wasson AP, Ramsay K, Jones MGK and Mathesius U (2009) Differing requirements for flavonoids during the formation of lateral roots, nodules and root knot nematode galls in Medicago truncatula. New Phytologist 183: 167–179 
  • Mathesius U (2008). Auxin – at the root of nodule development? Functional Plant Biology, 35: 651-668. 
  • Wasson, A.P., Pellerone, F.I. and Mathesius U. (2006) Silencing the flavonoid pathway in Medicago truncatula inhibits root nodule formation and prevents auxin transport regulation by rhizobia. Plant Cell 18, 1617-1629 
  • Bauer, W. D. and Mathesius, U. (2004) Plant responses to bacterial quorum sensing signals. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 7: 429-433 
  • Mathesius U., Mulders, S., Gao, M., Teplitski, M., Caetano-Anolles, G., Rolfe, B. G. and Bauer, W. D. (2003) Extensive and specific responses of a eukaryote to bacterial quorum sensing signals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 100: 1444-1449. 

All publications

News & events


Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions Retreat Kioloa 2017
This year’s annual MPMI retreat was a huge success down at the ANU’s Kioloa Coastal Campus.
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The School has done very well with regards to Discovery projects and DECRA fellowships. Congratulations to all successful applicants.
Ulrike Mathesius
Dr Ulrike Mathesius of the Plant Science Division has been awarded the prestigious Fenner Medal for 2013.
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The Research School of Biology achieved a 52% success rate in the recently-announced ARC Discovery Grant round, as well as significant success in the ARC Linkage and LIEF Grant schemes.



Nodulation in Legumes

Legumes are a large family of flowering plants that are economically important due to their wide variety of uses in agriculture, most notably as a staple food source.

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