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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2008 Aug;285(1):1-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2008.01254.x.

Rhizobial secreted proteins as determinants of host specificity in the rhizobium-legume symbiosis.

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  • 1Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, K.U. Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Rhizobia are Gram-negative bacteria than can elicit the formation of specialized organs, called root nodules, on leguminous host plants. Upon infection of the nodules, they differentiate into nitrogen-fixing bacteroids. An elaborate signal exchange precedes the symbiotic interaction. In general, both rhizobia and host plants exhibit narrow specificity. Rhizobial factors contributing to this specificity include Nod factors and surface polysaccharides. It is becoming increasingly clear that protein secretion is important in determining the outcome of the interaction as well. This paper discusses our current understanding of the symbiotic role played by rhizobial secreted proteins, transported both by secretion systems that are of general use, such as the type I secretion system, and by specialized, host-targeting secretion systems, such as the type III, type IV and type VI secretion systems.

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