Rhizobial exopolysaccharides: genetic control and symbiotic functions.
ABSTRACT: Specific complex interactions between soil bacteria belonging to Rhizobium, Sinorhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Phylorhizobium, Bradyrhizobium and Azorhizobium commonly known as rhizobia, and their host leguminous plants result in development of root nodules. Nodules are new organs that consist mainly of plant cells infected with bacteroids that provide the host plant with fixed nitrogen. Proper nodule development requires the synthesis and perception of signal molecules such as lipochitooligosaccharides, called Nod factors that are important for induction of nodule development. Bacterial surface polysaccharides are also crucial for establishment of successful symbiosis with legumes. Sugar polymers of rhizobia are composed of a number of different polysaccharides, such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS), capsular polysaccharides (CPS or K-antigens), neutral beta-1, 2-glucans and acidic extracellular polysaccharides (EPS). Despite extensive research, the molecular function of the surface polysaccharides in symbiosis remains unclear. This review focuses on exopolysaccharides that are especially important for the invasion that leads to formation of indetermined (with persistent meristem) type of nodules on legumes such as clover, vetch, peas or alfalfa. The significance of EPS synthesis in symbiotic interactions of Rhizobium leguminosarum with clover is especially noticed. Accumulating data suggest that exopolysaccharides may be involved in invasion and nodule development, bacterial release from infection threads, bacteroid development, suppression of plant defense response and protection against plant antimicrobial compounds. Rhizobial exopolysaccharides are species-specific heteropolysaccharide polymers composed of common sugars that are substituted with non-carbohydrate residues. Synthesis of repeating units of exopolysaccharide, their modification, polymerization and export to the cell surface is controlled by clusters of genes, named exo/exs, exp or pss that are localized on rhizobial megaplasmids or chromosome. The function of these genes was identified by isolation and characterization of several mutants disabled in exopolysaccharide synthesis. The effect of exopolysaccharide deficiency on nodule development has been extensively studied. Production of exopolysaccharides is influenced by a complex network of environmental factors such as phosphate, nitrogen or sulphur. There is a strong suggestion that production of a variety of symbiotically active polysaccharides may allow rhizobial strains to adapt to changing environmental conditions and interact efficiently with legumes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The formation of functional symbiotic nodules is the result of a coordinated developmental program between legumes and rhizobial bacteria. Genetic analyses in legumes have been used to dissect the signaling processes required for establishing the legume-rhizobial endosymbiotic association. Compared to the early events of the symbiotic interaction, less attention has been paid to plant loci required for rhizobial colonization and the functioning of the nodule. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a number of new genetic loci in Medicago truncatula that are required for the development of effective nitrogen fixing nodules. RESULTS: Approximately 38,000 EMS and fast neutron mutagenized Medicago truncatula seedlings were screened for defects in symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Mutant plants impaired in nodule development and efficient nitrogen fixation were selected for further genetic and phenotypic analysis. Nine mutants completely lacking in nodule formation (Nod-) represented six complementation groups of which two novel loci have been identified. Eight mutants with ineffective nodules (Fix-) represented seven complementation groups, out of which five were new monogenic loci. The Fix- M. truncatula mutants showed symptoms of nitrogen deficiency and developed small white nodules. Microscopic analysis of Fix- nodules revealed that the mutants have defects in the release of rhizobia from infection threads, differentiation of rhizobia and maintenance of persistence of bacteria in nodule cells. Additionally, we monitored the transcriptional activity of symbiosis specific genes to define what transcriptional stage of the symbiotic process is blocked in each of the Fix- mutants. Based on the phenotypic and gene expression analysis a functional hierarchy of the FIX genes is proposed. CONCLUSIONS: The new symbiotic loci of M. truncatula isolated in this study provide the foundation for further characterization of the mechanisms underpinning nodulation, in particular the later stages associated with bacterial release and nodule function.
Project description:On legume crops, formation of developmentally mature nodules is a prerequisite to efficient nitrogen fixation by populations of rhizobial bacteroids established inside nodule cells. Development of root nodules and concomitant microbial colonisation of plant cells are constrained by sets of recognition signals exchanged by infecting rhizobia and their legume hosts, with much of the specificity of symbiotic interactions being determined by the flavonoid cocktails released by legume roots and the strain-specific nodulation factors (NFs) secreted by rhizobia. Hence, much of Sinorhizobium fredii strain NGR234 symbiotic promiscuity was thought to stem from a family of >80 structurally diverse NFs and associated nodulation keys in the form of secreted effector proteins and rhamnose-rich surface polysaccharides. Here, we show instead that a mini-symbiotic plasmid (pMiniSym2) carrying only the nodABCIJ, nodS and nodD1 genes of NGR234 conferred promiscuous nodulation to ANU265, a derivative strain cured of the large symbiotic plasmid pNGR234a. The ANU265::pMiniSym2 transconjugant triggered nodulation responses on 12 of the 22 legumes we tested. On roots of Macroptilium atropurpureum, Leucaena leucocephala and Vigna unguiculata, ANU265::pMiniSym2 formed mature-like nodule and successfully infected nodule cells. While cowpea and siratro responded to nodule colonisation with defence responses that eventually eliminated bacteria, L. leucocephala formed leghemoglobin-containing mature-like nodules inside which the pMiniSym2 transconjugant established persistent intracellular colonies. This data shows seven nodulation genes of NGR234 suffice to trigger nodule formation on roots of many hosts and to establish chronic infections in Leucaena cells.
Project description:Legumes form endosymbiotic interaction with host compatible rhizobia, resulting in the development of nitrogen-fixing root nodules. Within symbiotic nodules, rhizobia are intracellularly accommodated in plant-derived membrane compartments, termed symbiosomes. In mature nodule, the massively colonized cells tolerate the existence of rhizobia without manifestation of visible defense responses, indicating the suppression of plant immunity in the nodule in the favur of the symbiotic partner. Medicago truncatulaDNF2 (defective in nitrogen fixation 2) and NAD1 (nodules with activated defense 1) genes are essential for the control of plant defense during the colonization of the nitrogen-fixing nodule and are required for bacteroid persistence. The previously identified nodule-specific NAD1 gene encodes a protein of unknown function. Herein, we present the analysis of novel NAD1 mutant alleles to better understand the function of NAD1 in the repression of immune responses in symbiotic nodules. By exploiting the advantage of plant double and rhizobial mutants defective in establishing nitrogen-fixing symbiotic interaction, we show that NAD1 functions following the release of rhizobia from the infection threads and colonization of nodule cells. The suppression of plant defense is self-dependent of the differentiation status of the rhizobia. The corresponding phenotype of nad1 and dnf2 mutants and the similarity in the induction of defense-associated genes in both mutants suggest that NAD1 and DNF2 operate close together in the same pathway controlling defense responses in symbiotic nodules.
Project description:Organisms rely on symbiotic associations for metabolism, protection, and energy. However, these intimate partnerships can be vulnerable to exploitation. What prevents microbial mutualists from parasitizing their hosts? In legumes, there is evidence that hosts have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to manage their symbiotic rhizobia, but the generality and evolutionary origins of these control mechanisms are under debate. Here, we focused on the symbiosis between Parasponia hosts and N2-fixing rhizobium bacteria. Parasponia is the only non-legume lineage to have evolved a rhizobial symbiosis and thus provides an evolutionary replicate to test how rhizobial exploitation is controlled. A key question is whether Parasponia hosts can prevent colonization of rhizobia under high nitrogen conditions, when the contribution of the symbiont becomes nonessential. We grew Parasponia andersonii inoculated with Bradyrhizobium elkanii under four ammonium nitrate concentrations in a controlled growth chamber. We measured shoot and root dry weight, nodule number, nodule fresh weight, nodule volume. To quantify viable rhizobial populations in planta, we crushed nodules and determined colony forming units (CFU), as a rhizobia fitness proxy. We show that, like legumes and actinorhizal plants, P. andersonii is able to control nodule symbiosis in response to exogenous nitrogen. While the relative host growth benefits of inoculation decreased with nitrogen fertilization, our highest ammonium nitrate concentration (3.75 mM) was sufficient to prevent nodule formation on inoculated roots. Rhizobial populations were highest in nitrogen free medium. While we do not yet know the mechanism, our results suggest that control mechanisms over rhizobia are not exclusive to the legume clade.
Project description:Root nodules are the symbiotic organ of legumes that house nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Many genes are specifically induced in nodules during the interactions between the host plant and symbiotic rhizobia. Information regarding the regulation of expression for most of these genes is lacking. One of the largest gene families expressed in the nodules of the model legume Medicago truncatula is the nodule cysteine-rich (NCR) group of defensin-like (DEFL) genes. We used a custom Affymetrix microarray to catalog the expression changes of 566 NCRs at different stages of nodule development. Additionally, bacterial mutants were used to understand the importance of the rhizobial partners in induction of NCRs. Expression of early NCRs was detected during the initial infection of rhizobia in nodules and expression continued as nodules became mature. Late NCRs were induced concomitantly with bacteroid development in the nodules. The induction of early and late NCRs was correlated with the number and morphology of rhizobia in the nodule. Conserved 41 to 50 bp motifs identified in the upstream 1,000 bp promoter regions of NCRs were required for promoter activity. These cis-element motifs were found to be unique to the NCR family among all annotated genes in the M. truncatula genome, although they contain sub-regions with clear similarity to known regulatory motifs involved in nodule-specific expression and temporal gene regulation.
Project description:The symbiosis between legumes and rhizobia results in the development of a new plant organ, the nodule. A role for polar auxin transport in nodule development in Medicago truncatula has been demonstrated using molecular genetic tools. The expression of a DR5::GUS auxin-responsive promoter in uninoculated M. truncatula roots mirrored that reported in Arabidopsis, and expression of the construct in nodulating roots confirmed results reported in white clover. The localization of a root-specific PIN protein (MtPIN2) in normal roots, developing lateral roots and nodules provided the first evidence that a PIN protein is expressed in nodules. Reduced levels of MtPIN2, MtPIN3, and MtPIN4 mRNAs via RNA interference demonstrated that plants with reduced expression of various MtPINs display a reduced number of nodules. The reported results show that in M. truncatula, PIN proteins play an important role in nodule development, and that nodules and lateral roots share some early auxin responses in common, but they rapidly differentiate with respect to auxin and MtPIN2 protein distribution.
Project description:Sinorhizobium meliloti enters into beneficial symbiotic interactions with Medicago species of legumes. Bacterial exopolysaccharides play critical signaling roles in infection thread initiation and growth during the early stages of root nodule formation. After endocytosis of S. meliloti by plant cells in the developing nodule, plant-derived nodule-specific cysteine-rich (NCR) peptides mediate terminal differentiation of the bacteria into nitrogen-fixing bacteroids. Previous transcriptional studies showed that the intensively studied cationic peptide NCR247 induces expression of the exo genes that encode the proteins required for succinoglycan biosynthesis. In addition, genetic studies have shown that some exo mutants exhibit increased sensitivity to the antimicrobial action of NCR247. Therefore, we investigated whether the symbiotically active S. meliloti exopolysaccharide succinoglycan can protect S. meliloti against the antimicrobial activity of NCR247. We discovered that high-molecular-weight forms of succinoglycan have the ability to protect S. meliloti from the antimicrobial action of the NCR247 peptide but low-molecular-weight forms of wild-type succinoglycan do not. The protective function of high-molecular-weight succinoglycan occurs via direct molecular interactions between anionic succinoglycan and the cationic NCR247 peptide, but this interaction is not chiral. Taken together, our observations suggest that S. meliloti exopolysaccharides not only may be critical during early stages of nodule invasion but also are upregulated at a late stage of symbiosis to protect bacteria against the bactericidal action of cationic NCR peptides. Our findings represent an important step forward in fully understanding the complete set of exopolysaccharide functions during legume symbiosis.IMPORTANCE Symbiotic interactions between rhizobia and legumes are economically important for global food production. The legume symbiosis also is a major part of the global nitrogen cycle and is an ideal model system to study host-microbe interactions. Signaling between legumes and rhizobia is essential to establish symbiosis, and understanding these signals is a major goal in the field. Exopolysaccharides are important in the symbiotic context because they are essential signaling molecules during early-stage symbiosis. In this study, we provide evidence suggesting that the Sinorhizobium meliloti exopolysaccharide succinoglycan also protects the bacteria against the antimicrobial action of essential late-stage symbiosis plant peptides.
Project description:Actin plays a critical role in the rhizobium-legume symbiosis. Cytoskeletal rearrangements and changes in actin occur in response to Nod factors secreted by rhizobia during symbiotic interactions with legumes. These cytoskeletal rearrangements are mediated by diverse actin-binding proteins, such as actin depolymerization factors (ADFs). We examined the function of an ADF in the Phaseolus vulgaris-rhizobia symbiotic interaction (PvADFE). PvADFE was preferentially expressed in rhizobia-inoculated roots and nodules. PvADFE promoter activity was associated with root hairs harbouring growing infection threads, cortical cell divisions beneath root hairs, and vascular bundles in mature nodules. Silencing of PvADFE using RNA interference increased the number of infection threads in the transgenic roots, resulting in increased nodule number, nitrogen fixation activity, and average nodule diameter. Conversely, overexpression of PvADFE reduced the nodule number, nitrogen fixation activity, average nodule diameter, as well as NODULE INCEPTION (NIN) and EARLY NODULIN2 (ENOD2) transcript accumulation. Hence, changes in ADFE transcript levels affect rhizobial infection and nodulation, suggesting that ADFE is fine-tuning these processes.
Project description:Gibberellin (GA) plays a controversial role in the legume-rhizobium symbiosis. Recent studies have shown that the GA level in legumes must be precisely controlled for successful rhizobial infection and nodule organogenesis. However, regulation of the GA level via catabolism in legume roots has not been reported to date. Here, we investigate a novel GA inactivating C20-GA2-oxidase gene MtGA2ox10 in Medicago truncatula. RNA sequencing analysis and quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that MtGA2ox10 was induced as early as 6?h post-inoculation (hpi) of rhizobia and reached peak transcript abundance at 12 hpi. Promoter::?-glucuronidase fusion showed that the promoter activity was localized in the root infection/differentiation zone during the early stage of rhizobial infection and in the vascular bundle of the mature nodule. The CRISPR/Cas9-mediated deletion mutation of MtGA2ox10 suppressed infection thread formation, which resulted in reduced development and retarded growth of nodules on the Agrobacterium rhizogenes-transformed roots. Over-expression of MtGA2ox10 in the stable transgenic plants caused dwarfism, which was rescued by GA3 application, and increased infection thread formation but inhibition of nodule development. We conclude that MtGA2ox10 plays an important role in the rhizobial infection and the development of root nodules through fine catabolic tuning of GA in M. truncatula.
Project description:In legume nodules, rhizobia differentiate into nitrogen-fixing forms called bacteroids, which are enclosed by a plant membrane in an organelle-like structure called the symbiosome. In the Inverted Repeat-Lacking Clade (IRLC) of legumes, this differentiation is terminal due to irreversible loss of cell division ability and is associated with genome amplification and different morphologies of the bacteroids that can be swollen, elongated, spherical, and elongated-branched, depending on the host plant. In Medicago truncatula, this process is orchestrated by nodule-specific cysteine-rich peptides (NCRs) delivered into developing bacteroids. Here, we identified the predicted NCR proteins in 10 legumes representing different subclades of the IRLC with distinct bacteroid morphotypes. Analysis of their expression and predicted sequences establishes correlations between the composition of the NCR family and the morphotypes of bacteroids. Although NCRs have a single origin, their evolution has followed different routes in individual lineages, and enrichment and diversification of cationic peptides has resulted in the ability to impose major morphological changes on the endosymbionts. The wide range of effects provoked by NCRs such as cell enlargement, membrane alterations and permeabilization, and biofilm and vesicle formation is dependent on the amino acid composition and charge of the peptides. These effects are strongly influenced by the rhizobial surface polysaccharides that affect NCR-induced differentiation and survival of rhizobia in nodule cells.