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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Sep;82(17):5841-5.

Conservation of nodulation genes between Rhizobium meliloti and a slow-growing Rhizobium strain that nodulates a nonlegume host.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Parasponia, a woody member of the elm family, is the only nonlegume genus whose members are known to form an effective nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with a Rhizobium species. The bacterial strain RP501 is a slow-growing strain of Rhizobium isolated from Parasponia nodules. Strain RP501 also nodulates the legumes siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Using a cosmid clone bank of RP501 DNA, we isolated a 13.4-kilobase (kb) EcoRI fragment that complemented insertion and point mutations in three contiguous nodulation genes (nodABC) of Rhizobium meliloti, the endosymbiont of alfalfa (Medicago sativa). The complemented R. meliloti nod mutants induced effective nitrogen-fixing nodules on alfalfa seedlings but not on siratro, cowpeas, or Parasponia. The cloned RP501 nodulation locus hybridized to DNA fragments carrying the R. meliloti nodABC genes. A 3-kb cluster of Tn5 insertion mutations on the RP501 13.4-kb EcoRI fragment prevented complementation of R. meliloti nodABC mutations.


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