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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Nov;6(21):3137-47.

Molecular and symbiotic characterization of exopolysaccharide-deficient mutants of Rhizobium tropici strain CIAT899.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706.


We studied the symbiotic behaviour of 20 independent Tn5 mutants of Rhizobium tropici strain CIAT899 that were deficient in exopolysaccharide (EPS) production. The mutants produced non-mucoid colonies, were motile, grew in broth cultures at rates similar to those of the parent, and produced significantly less EPS than did CIAT899 in broth culture. A genomic library of strain CIAT899, constructed in pLA2917, was mobilized into all of the mutants, and cosmids that restored EPS production were identified. EcoRI restriction digests of the cosmids revealed nine unique inserts. Mutant complementation and hybridization analysis showed that the mutations affecting EPS production fell into six functional and physical linkage groups. On bean, the mutants were as efficient in nodulation and as effective in acetylene reduction as strain CIAT899, induced a severe interveinal chlorosis, and all but one were less competitive than CIAT899. On siratro, CIAT899 induced nodules that were ineffective in acetylene reduction, whereas the EPS-deficient mutants induced effective nodules. Microscopic examination of thin sections showed that nodules from both siratro and bean plants inoculated with either CIAT899 or an EPS-deficient mutant contained infected cells. These data indicate that EPS is not required for normal nodulation of bean by R. tropici, that it may contribute to competitiveness of R. tropici on bean, and that the loss of EPS production is accompanied by acquisition of the ability to reduce acetylene on siratro.

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