Logo of jbacterPermissionsJournals.ASM.orgJournalJB ArticleJournal InfoAuthorsReviewers
J Bacteriol. 1987 Sep; 169(9): 4294–4301.
PMCID: PMC213743

Involvement of both cellulose fibrils and a Ca2+-dependent adhesin in the attachment of Rhizobium leguminosarum to pea root hair tips.


We have previously described an assay for the attachment of Rhizobium bacteria to pea root hair tips (cap formation) which was used as a model to study the attachment step in the nodulation process. Under all conditions tested, a positive correlation was observed between the percentage of fibrillated cells and the ability of these bacteria to form caps and to adhere to glass, suggesting that fibrils play a role in the attachment of Rhizobium leguminosarum to pea root hair tips and to glass (G. Smit, J. W. Kijne, and B. J. J. Lugtenberg, J. Bacteriol. 168:821-827, 1986). In the present paper the chemical and functional characterization of the fibrils of R. leguminosarum is described. Characterization of purified fibrils by infrared spectroscopy and cellulase treatment followed by thin-layer chromatography showed that the fibrils are composed of cellulose. Purified cellulose fibrils, as well as commercial cellulose, inhibited cap formation when present during the attachment assay. Incubation of the bacteria with purified cellulase just before the attachment assay strongly inhibited cap formation, indicating that the fibrils are directly involved in the attachment process. Tn5-induced fibril-overproducing mutants showed a greatly increased ability to form caps, whereas Tn5-induced fibril-negative mutants lost this ability. None of these Tn5 insertions appeared to be located on the Sym plasmid. Both types of mutants showed normal nodulation properties, indicating that cellulose fibrils are not a prerequisite for successful nodulation under the conditions used. The ability of the fibril-negative mutants to attach to glass was not affected by the mutations, indicating that attachment to pea root hair tips and attachment to glass are (partly) based on different mechanisms. However, growth of the rhizobia under low Ca2+ conditions strongly reduced attachment to glass and also prevented cap formation, although it had no negative effect on fibril synthesis. This phenomenon was found for several Rhizobium spp. It was concluded that both cellulose fibrils and a Ca2+ -dependent adhesin(s) are involved in the attachment of R. leguminosarum to pea root hair tips. A model cap formation as a two-step process is discussed.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (2.1M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Images in this article

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Badenoch-Jones J, Flanders DJ, Rolfe BG. Association of Rhizobium Strains with Roots of Trifolium repens. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1985 Jun;49(6):1511–1520. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bohlool BB, Schmidt EL. Lectins: a possible basis for specificity in the Rhizobium--legume root nodule symbiosis. Science. 1974 Jul 19;185(4147):269–271. [PubMed]
  • Dazzo FB, Napoli CA, Hubbell DH. Adsorption of bacteria to roots as related to host specificity in the Rhizobium-clover symbiosis. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1976 Jul;32(1):166–171. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dazzo FB, Truchet GL, Sherwood JE, Hrabak EM, Abe M, Pankratz SH. Specific phases of root hair attachment in the Rhizobium trifolii-clover symbiosis. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1984 Dec;48(6):1140–1150. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Deinema MH, Zevenhuizen LP. Formation of cellulose fibrils by gram-negative bacteria and their role in bacterial flocculation. Arch Mikrobiol. 1971;78(1):42–51. [PubMed]
  • Haahtela K, Tarkka E, Korhonen TK. Type 1 fimbria-mediated adhesion of enteric bacteria to grass roots. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1985 May;49(5):1182–1185. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Korhonen TK, Nurmiaho EL, Ranta H, Edén CS. New Method for isolation of immunologically pure pili from Escherichia coli. Infect Immun. 1980 Feb;27(2):569–575. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lugtenberg B, Meijers J, Peters R, van der Hoek P, van Alphen L. Electrophoretic resolution of the "major outer membrane protein" of Escherichia coli K12 into four bands. FEBS Lett. 1975 Oct 15;58(1):254–258. [PubMed]
  • Matthysse AG. Role of bacterial cellulose fibrils in Agrobacterium tumefaciens infection. J Bacteriol. 1983 May;154(2):906–915. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Matthysse AG, Holmes KV, Gurlitz RH. Elaboration of cellulose fibrils by Agrobacterium tumefaciens during attachment to carrot cells. J Bacteriol. 1981 Jan;145(1):583–595. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Mills KK, Bauer WD. Rhizobium attachment to clover roots. J Cell Sci Suppl. 1985;2:333–345. [PubMed]
  • Napoli C, Dazzo F, Hubbell D. Production of cellulose microfibrils by Rhizobium. Appl Microbiol. 1975 Jul;30(1):123–131. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pannekoek H, Noordermeer IA, van Sluis CA, van de Putte P. Expression of the uvrB gene of Escherichia coli: in vitro construction of a pMB9 uvrB plasmid. J Bacteriol. 1978 Feb;133(2):884–896. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Smit G, Kijne JW, Lugtenberg BJ. Correlation between extracellular fibrils and attachment of Rhizobium leguminosarum to pea root hair tips. J Bacteriol. 1986 Nov;168(2):821–827. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Southern EM. Detection of specific sequences among DNA fragments separated by gel electrophoresis. J Mol Biol. 1975 Nov 5;98(3):503–517. [PubMed]
  • Stacey G, Paau AS, Brill WJ. Host recognition in the Rhizobium-soybean symbiosis. Plant Physiol. 1980 Oct;66(4):609–614. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Vesper SJ, Bauer WD. Role of Pili (Fimbriae) in Attachment of Bradyrhizobium japonicum to Soybean Roots. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1986 Jul;52(1):134–141. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wray W, Boulikas T, Wray VP, Hancock R. Silver staining of proteins in polyacrylamide gels. Anal Biochem. 1981 Nov 15;118(1):197–203. [PubMed]
  • Zurkowski W. Specific adsorption of bacteria to clover root hairs, related to the presence of the plasmid pWZ2 in cells of Rhizobium trifolii. Microbios. 1980;27(107):27–32. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Bacteriology are provided here courtesy of American Society for Microbiology (ASM)


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Compound
    PubChem chemical compound records that cite the current articles. These references are taken from those provided on submitted PubChem chemical substance records. Multiple substance records may contribute to the PubChem compound record.
  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    PubChem chemical substance records that cite the current articles. These references are taken from those provided on submitted PubChem chemical substance records.

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...