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J Bacteriol. 1996 Dec;178(24):7159-66.

Use of green fluorescent protein to visualize the early events of symbiosis between Rhizobium meliloti and alfalfa (Medicago sativa).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305-5020, USA.


A gene encoding a variant of green fluorescent protein (GFP) of Aequorea victoria was put under the control of a promoter which is constitutive in Rhizobium meliloti. The heterologous GFP gene was expressed at high levels during all stages of symbiosis, allowing R. meliloti cells to be visualized as they grew in the rhizosphere, on the root surface, and inside infection threads. In addition, nodules that were infected with bacteria which were synthesizing GFP fluoresced when illuminated with blue light. GFP-tagged bacteria could be seen inside infection threads, providing the opportunity to measure the growth rate and determine the patterns of growth of R. meliloti residing inside its host plant.

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