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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Nov;6(22):3321-30.

Differential expression of nodS accounts for the varied abilities of Rhizobium fredii USDA257 and Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 to nodulate Leucaena spp.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211.


Transfer of a cosmid containing nodSU from Rhizobium sp. NGR234 to Rhizobium fredii USDA257 expands the host range for nodulation to include the perennial tropical legumes, Leucaena leucocephala and Leucaena diversifolia. Complementation experiments with a series of subclones established that nodS and its associated nod-box promoter from NGR234 are sufficient to confer this extended host-range phenotype to L. leucocephala. Strain USDA257 contains its own copy of nodSU, including upstream nod-box sequences. Although both nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the reading frames are homologous between the two strains, there are gaps within the promoter region and the 5'-end of nodS of USDA257. Consequently, the deduced NodS protein of USDA257 is shorter than its counterpart from NGR234, and the distance between the nod-box and the initiation codon is greater. A 36 bp deletion encompasses the extreme right border of the USDA257 nod-box and extends into the upstream leader sequence. Transcriptional fusions with both nod-boxes confirmed that the promoter from NGR234 is flavonoid-inducible, and that the nod-box from USDA257 is not. These observations were corroborated by Northern analysis with a nodS-containing Xhol fragment as hybridization probe. Flavonoid-induced cells of NGR234 gave an intense signal, but those of USDA257 yielded only a weak trace of hybridization. EcoRI fragments with homology to nodSU of USDA257 are present in 17 of 35 tested strains, including several representatives of Bradyrhizobium japonicum, Rhizobium sp., R. loti, and R. fredii. Two wild-type, leucaena-nodulating strains of Rhizobium sp. lack this homology. We conclude that a genetic defect in expression of nodS accounts for the inability of USDA257 to nodulate leucaena and that diverse rhizobia may have evolved alternative mechanisms to nodulate this legume species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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