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Heterologous exopolysaccharide production in Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 and consequences for nodule development.

By J X Gray, H J Zhan, S B Levery, L Battisti, B G Rolfe and J A Leigh


Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 produces large amounts of acidic exopolysaccharide. Mutants that fail to synthesize this exopolysaccharide are also unable to nodulate the host plant Leucaena leucocephala. A hybrid strain of Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 containing exo genes from Rhizobium meliloti was constructed. The background genetics and nod genes of Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 are retained, but the cluster of genes involved in exopolysaccharide biosynthesis was deleted. These exo genes were replaced with genes required for the synthesis of succinoglycan exopolysaccharide from R. meliloti. As a result of the genetic manipulation, the ability of these hybrids to synthesize exopolysaccharide was restored, but the structure was that of succinoglycan and not that of Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234. The replacement genes were contained on a cosmid which encoded the entire known R. meliloti exo gene cluster, with the exception of exoB. Cosmids containing smaller portions of this exo gene cluster did not restore exopolysaccharide production. The presence of succinoglycan was indicated by staining with the fluorescent dye Calcofluor, proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and monosaccharide analysis. Although an NGR234 exoY mutant containing the R. meliloti exo genes produced multimers of the succinoglycan repeat unit, as does the wild-type R. meliloti, the deletion mutant of Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 containing the R. meliloti exo genes produced only the monomer. The deletion mutant therefore appeared to lack a function that affects the multiplicity of succinoglycan produced in the Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 background. Although these hybrid strains produced succinoglycan, they were still able to induce the development of an organized nodule structure on L. leucocephala. The resulting nodules did not fix nitrogen, but they did contain infection threads and bacteroids within plant cells. This clearly demonstrated that a heterologous acidic exopolysaccharide structure was sufficient to enable nodule development to proceed beyond the developmental barrier imposed on mutants of Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 that are unable to synthesize any acidic exopolysaccharide

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1991
DOI identifier: 10.1128/jb.173.10.3066-3077.1991
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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