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Plant Cell. 1990 Dec;2(12):1157-1170.

Rhizobium meliloti Genes Encoding Catabolism of Trigonelline Are Induced under Symbiotic Conditions.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biologie Moleculaire des Relations Plantes Microorganismes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France.


Rhizobium meliloti trc genes controlling the catabolism of trigonelline, a plant secondary metabolite often abundant in legumes, are closely linked to nif-nod genes on the symbiotic megaplasmid pSym [Boivin, C., Malpica, C., Rosenberg, C., Denarie, J., Goldman, A., Fleury, V., Maille, M., Message, B., and Tepfer, D. (1989). In Molecular Signals in the Microbe-Plant Symbiotic and Pathogenic Systems. (Berlin: Springer-Verlag), pp. 401-407]. To investigate the role of trigonelline catabolism in the Rhizobium-legume interaction, we studied the regulation of trc gene expression in free-living and in endosymbiotic bacteria using Escherichia coli lacZ as a reporter gene. Experiments performed with free-living bacteria indicated that trc genes were organized in at least four transcription units and that the substrate trigonelline was a specific inducer for three of them. Noninducing trigonelline-related compounds such as betaines appeared to antagonize the inducing effect of trigonelline. None of the general or symbiotic regulatory genes ntrA, dctB/D, or nodD seemed to be involved in trigonelline catabolism. trc fusions exhibiting a low basal and a high induced [beta]-galactosidase activity when present on pSym were used to monitor trc gene expression in alfalfa tissue under symbiotic conditions. Results showed that trc genes are induced during all the symbiotic steps, i.e., in the rhizosphere, infection threads, and bacteroids of alfalfa, suggesting that trigonelline is a nutrient source throughout the Rhizobium-legume association.

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