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Mol Gen Genet. 1991 Dec;230(3):423-32.

Nodules elicited by Rhizobium meliloti heme mutants are arrested at an early stage of development.

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


Heme-deficient mutants of Rhizobium and Bradyrhizobium have been found to exhibit diverse phenotypes with respect to symbiotic interactions with plant hosts. We observed that R. meliloti hemA mutants elicit nodules that do not contain intracellular bacteria; the nodules contain either no infection threads ("empty" nodule phenotype) or aberrant infection threads that failed to release bacteria (Bar- phenotype). These mutant nodules expressed nodulin genes associated with nodules arrested at an early stage of development, including ENOD2, Nms-30, and four previously undescribed nodulin genes. These nodules also failed to express any of six late nodulin genes tested by hybridization, including leghemoglobin, and twelve tested by in vitro translation product analysis which are not yet correlated with specific cloned genes. We observed that R. meliloti leucine and adenosine auxotrophs induced invaded Fix- nodules that expressed late nodulin genes, suggesting that it is not auxotrophy per se that causes the hemA mutants to elicit Bar- or empty nodules. Because R. meliloti hemA mutants elicit nodules that do not contain intracellular bacteria, it is not possible to decide whether or not the Fix- phenotype of these nodules is a direct consequence of the failure of R. meliloti to supply the heme moiety of hololeghemoglobin. Our results demonstrate the importance of establishing the stage in development at which a mutant nodule is arrested before conclusions are drawn about the role of small metabolite exchange in the symbiosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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