Rhizobia colonize their legume hosts by different modes of entry while initiating symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Most legumes are invaded via growing root hairs by the root hair-curl mechanism, which involves epidermal cell responses. However, invasion of a number of tropical legumes happens through fissures at lateral root bases by cortical, intercellular crack entry. In the semiaquatic Sesbania rostrata, the bacteria entered via root hair curls under nonflooding conditions. Upon flooding, root hair growth was prevented, invasion on accessible root hairs was inhibited, and intercellular invasion was recruited. The plant hormone ethylene was involved in these processes. The occurrence of both invasion pathways on the same host plant enabled a comparison to be made of the structural requirements for the perception of nodulation factors, which were more stringent for the epidermal root hair invasion than for the cortical intercellular invasion at lateral root bases.