Nodulation is a hallmark yet non-universal characteristic of legumes. It is unknown whether the mechanisms underlying nitrogen-fixing symbioses evolved within legumes and the broader nitrogen-fixing clade (NFC) repeatedly de novo or based on common ancestral pathways. Ten new transcriptomes representing members from the Cercidoideae and Caesalpinioideae subfamilies were supplemented with published omics data from 65 angiosperms, to investigate how gene content correlates with nodulation capacity within Fabaceae and the NFC. Orthogroup analysis categorized annotated genes into 64150 orthogroups, of which 19 were significantly differentially represented between nodulating versus non-nodulating NFC species and were most commonly absent in nodulating taxa. The distribution of six over-represented orthogroups within Viridiplantae representatives suggested that genomic evolution events causing gene family expansions, including whole-genome duplications (WGDs), were unlikely to have facilitated the development of stable symbioses within Fabaceae as a whole. Instead, an absence of representation of 13 orthogroups indicated that losses of genes involved in trichome development, defense and wounding responses were strongly associated with rhizobial symbiosis in legumes. This finding provides novel evidence of a lineage-specific predisposition for the evolution and/or stabilization of nodulation in Fabaceae, in which a loss of pathogen resistance genes may have allowed for stable mutualistic interactions with rhizobia.