Iron acquisition by symbiotic Rhizobium spp. is essential for nitrogen fixation in the legume root nodule symbiosis. Rhizobium leguminosarum 116, an ineffective mutant strain with a defect in iron acquisition, was isolated after nitrosoguanidine mutagenesis of the effective strain 1062. The pop-1 mutation in strain 116 imparted to it a complex phenotype, characteristic of iron deficiency: the accumulation of porphyrins (precursors of hemes) so that colonies emitted a characteristic pinkish-red fluorescence when excited by UV light, reduced levels of cytochromes b and c, and wild-type growth on high-iron media but low or no growth in low-iron broth and on solid media supplemented with the iron scavenger dipyridyl. Several iron(III)-solubilizing agents, such as citrate, hydroxyquinoline, and dihydroxybenzoate, stimulated growth of 116 on low-iron solid medium; anthranilic acid, the R. leguminosarum siderophore, inhibited low-iron growth of 116. The initial rate of 55Fe uptake by suspensions of iron-starved 116 cells was 10-fold less than that of iron-starved wild-type cells. Electron microscopic observations revealed no morphological abnormalities in the small, white nodules induced by 116. Nodule cortical cells were filled with vesicles containing apparently normal bacteroids. No premature degeneration of bacteroids or of plant cell organelles was evident. We mapped pop-1 by R plasmid-mediated conjugation and recombination to the ade-27-rib-2 region of the R. leguminosarum chromosome. No segregation of pop-1 and the symbiotic defect was observed among the recombinants from these crosses. Cosmid pKN1, a pLAFR1 derivative containing a 24-kilobase-pair fragment of R. leguminosarum DNA, conferred on 116 the ability to grow on dipyridyl medium and to fix nitrogen symbiotically. These results indicate that the insert cloned in pKN1 encodes an element of the iron acquisition system of R. leguminosarum that is essential for symbiotic nitrogen fixation
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