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Mol Microbiol. 1999 Oct;34(2):227-37.

Structure of the Mesorhizobium huakuii and Rhizobium galegae Nod factors: a cluster of phylogenetically related legumes are nodulated by rhizobia producing Nod factors with alpha,beta-unsaturated N-acyl substitutions.

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Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire des Relations Plantes-Microorganismes, INRA-CNRS, BP27, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan Cedex, France.


Rhizobia are symbiotic bacteria that synthesize lipochitooligosaccharide Nod factors (NFs), which act as signal molecules in the nodulation of specific legume hosts. Based on the structure of their N-acyl chain, NFs can be classified into two categories: (i) those that are acylated with fatty acids from the general lipid metabolism; and (ii) those (= alphaU-NFs) that are acylated by specific alpha,beta-unsaturated fatty acids (containing carbonyl-conjugated unsaturation(s)). Previous work has described how rhizobia that nodulate legumes of the Trifolieae and Vicieae tribes produce alphaU-NFs. Here, we have studied the structure of NFs from two rhizobial species that nodulate important genera of the Galegeae tribe, related to Trifolieae and Vicieae. Three strains of Mesorhizobium huakuii, symbionts of Astragalus sinicus, produced as major NFs, pentameric lipochitooligosaccharides O-sulphated and partially N-glycolylated at the reducing end and N-acylated, at the non-reducing end, by a C18:4 fatty acid. Two strains of Rhizobium galegae, symbionts of Galega sp., produced as major NFs, tetrameric O-carbamoylated NFs that could be O-acetylated on the glucosamine residue next to the non-reducing terminal glucosamine and were N-acylated by C18 and C20 alpha,beta-unsaturated fatty acids. These results suggest that legumes nodulated by rhizobia synthesizing alphaU-NFs constitute a phylogenetic cluster in the Galegoid phylum.

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