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Plant Physiol. 1987 Oct;85(2):335-42.

Trifolitoxin Production and Nodulation Are Necessary for the Expression of Superior Nodulation Competitiveness by Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii Strain T24 on Clover.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside California 92521.


Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii T24 is ineffective in symbiotic nitrogen fixation, produces a potent antibiotic (referred to here as trifolitoxin) that is bacteriostatic to certain Rhizobium strains, and is very competitive for clover root nodulation (EA Schwinghamer, RP Belkengren 1968 Arch Mikrobiol 64: 130-145). The primary objective of this work was to demonstrate the roles of nodulation and trifolitoxin production in the expression of nodulation competitiveness by T24. Unlike wildtype T24, transposon mutants of T24 lacking trifolitoxin production were unable to decrease clover nodulation by an effective, trifolitoxin-sensitive strain of R. leguminosarum bv. trifolii. A non-nodulating transposon mutant of T24 prevented clover nodulation by a trifolitoxin-sensitive R. leguminosarum bv. trifolii when co-inoculated with a T24 mutant lacking trifolitoxin production. Neither mutant alone prevented nodulation by the trifolitoxin-sensitive strain. These results demonstrate that trifolitoxin production and nodulation are required for the expression of nodulation competitiveness by strain T24. A trifolitoxin-sensitive strain of R. meliloti did not nodulate alfalfa when co-inoculated with T24 and a trifolitoxin-resistant strain of R. meliloti. Thus, a trifolitoxin-producing strain was useful in regulating nodule occupancy on a legume host other than clover. Trifolitoxin production was constitutive in both minimal and enriched media. Trifolitoxin was found to inhibit the growth of 95% of all strains of R. leguminosarum bvs. trifolii, viceae, and phaseoli tested. Strains of all 13 biotypes of R. leguminosarum bv. trifolii were inhibited by trifolitoxin. Three strains of R. fredii were also inhibited. Strain T24 ineffectively nodulated 46 clover species, did not nodulate Trifolium ambiguum, and induced partially effective nodules on Trifolium micranthum. Since T24 produced partially effective nodules on T. micranthum and since a trifolitoxin-minus mutant of T24 induced ineffective nodules, trifolitoxin production is not the cause of the symbiotic ineffectiveness of T24.

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