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J Bacteriol. 1990 Dec; 172(12): 6849–6855.
PMCID: PMC210802

Osmoregulation in Agrobacterium tumefaciens: accumulation of a novel disaccharide is controlled by osmotic strength and glycine betaine.


We have investigated the mechanism of osmotic stress adaptation (osmoregulation) in Agrobacterium tumefaciens biotype I (salt-tolerant) and biotype II (salt-sensitive) strains. Using natural-abundance 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, we identified all organic solutes that accumulated to significant levels in osmotically stressed cultures. When stressed, biotype I strains (C58, NT1, and A348) accumulated glutamate and a novel disaccharide, beta-fructofuranosyl-alpha-mannopyranoside, commonly known as mannosucrose. In the salt-sensitive biotype II strain K84, glutamate was observed but mannosucrose was not. We speculate that mannosucrose confers the extra osmotic tolerance observed in the biotype I strains. In addition to identifying the osmoregulated solutes that this species synthesizes, we investigated the ability of A. tumefaciens to utilize the powerful osmotic stress protectant glycine betaine when it is supplied in the medium. Results from growth experiments, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and a 14C labeling experiment demonstrated that in the absence of osmotic stress, glycine betaine was metabolized, while in stressed cultures, glycine betaine accumulated intracellularly and conferred enhanced osmotic stress tolerance. Furthermore, when glycine betaine was taken up in stressed cells, its accumulation caused the intracellular concentration of mannosucrose to drop significantly. The possible role of osmoregulation of A. tumefaciens in the transformation of plants is discussed.

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