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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Mar;30(3):720-32.

Phylogenetic analyses of symbiotic nodulation genes support vertical and lateral gene co-transfer within the Bradyrhizobium genus.

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Laboratoire des Symbioses Tropicales et Méditerranéennes, IRD-INRA-CIRAD-ENSAM, 34398 Montpellier, France.


Symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria-known as rhizobia-harbour a set of nodulation (nod) genes that control the synthesis of modified lipo-chitooligosaccharides, called Nod factors that are required for legume nodulation. The nodA gene, which is essential for symbiosis, is responsible for the attachment of the fatty acid group to the oligosaccharide backbone. The nodZ, nolL, and noeI genes are involved in specific modifications of Nod factors common to bradyrhizobia, i.e., the transfer of a fucosyl group on the Nod factor core, fucose acetylation and fucose methylation, respectively. PCR amplification, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of nodA gene sequences from a collection of diverse Bradyrhizobium strains revealed the monophyletic character with the possible exception of photosynthetic Bradyrhizobium, despite high sequence diversity. The distribution of the nodZ, nolL, and noeI genes in the studied strains, as assessed by gene amplification, hybridization or sequencing, was found to correlate with the nodA tree topology. Moreover, the nodA, nodZ, and noeI phylogenies were largely congruent, but did not closely follow the taxonomy of the strains shown by the housekeeping 16S rRNA and dnaK genes. Additionally, the distribution of nodZ, noeI, and nolL genes suggested that their presence may be related to the requirements of their legume hosts. These data indicated that the spread and maintenance of nodulation genes within the Bradyrhizobium genus occurred through vertical transmission, although lateral gene transfer also played a significant role.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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