The modulation of leguminous plant ethylene levels by symbiotic rhizobia played a role in the evolution of the nodulation process.
ABSTRACT: Ethylene plays an important role in regulating the rhizobial nodulation process. Consequently, numerous strains of rhizobia possess the ability to decrease plant ethylene levels by the expression of the enzyme 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) deaminase or via the production of rhizobitoxine, thus, leading to an increased ability to nodulate leguminous plants. Nevertheless, not much is understood about the prevalence of these ethylene modulation genes in different rhizobial groups nor their role in the evolution of the symbiotic process. In this work, we analyze the prevalence and evolution of the enzymes ACC deaminase (AcdS) and dihydrorhizobitoxine desaturase (RtxC) in 395 NodC+ genomes from different rhizobial strains isolated from a wide range of locations and plant hosts, and discuss their importance in the evolution of the symbiotic process. The obtained results show that AcdS and RtxC are differentially prevalent in rhizobial groups, indicating the existence of several selection mechanisms governed by the rhizobial strain itself and its evolutionary origin, the environment, and, importantly, the leguminous plant host (co-evolution). Moreover, it was found that the prevalence of AcdS and RtxC is increased in Bradyrhizobium and Paraburkholderia, and lower in other groups. Data obtained from phylogenetic, evolutionary as well as gene localization analysis support the previous hypotheses regarding the ancient origin of the nodulation abilities in Bradyrhizobium and Paraburkholderia, and brings a new perspective for the importance of ethylene modulation genes in the development of the symbiotic process. The acquisition of AcdS by horizontal gene transfer and a positive selection in other rhizobial groups indicates that this enzyme plays an important role in the nodulation process of many rhizobia. On the other hand, RtxC is negatively selected in most symbioses. Understanding the evolution of ethylene modulation genes in rhizobia may be the key to the development of new strategies aiming for an increased nodulation and nitrogen fixation process.
Project description:Ethylene inhibits nodulation in various legumes. In order to investigate strategies employed by Rhizobium to regulate nodulation, the 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) deaminase gene was isolated and characterized from one of the ACC deaminase-producing rhizobia, Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae 128C53K. ACC deaminase degrades ACC, the immediate precursor of ethylene in higher plants. Through the action of this enzyme, ACC deaminase-containing bacteria can reduce ethylene biosynthesis in plants. Insertion mutants with mutations in the rhizobial ACC deaminase gene (acdS) and its regulatory gene, a leucine-responsive regulatory protein-like gene (lrpL), were constructed and tested to determine their abilities to nodulate Pisum sativum L. cv. Sparkle (pea). Both mutants, neither of which synthesized ACC deaminase, showed decreased nodulation efficiency compared to that of the parental strain. Our results suggest that ACC deaminase in R. leguminosarum bv. viciae 128C53K enhances the nodulation of P. sativum L. cv. Sparkle, likely by modulating ethylene levels in the plant roots during the early stages of nodule development. ACC deaminase might be the second described strategy utilized by Rhizobium to promote nodulation by adjusting ethylene levels in legumes.
Project description:The legume tribe Genisteae comprises 618, predominantly temperate species, showing an amphi-Atlantic distribution that was caused by several long-distance dispersal events. Seven out of the 16 authenticated rhizobial genera can nodulate particular Genisteae species. Bradyrhizobium predominates among rhizobia nodulating Genisteae legumes. Bradyrhizobium strains that infect Genisteae species belong to both the Bradyrhizobium japonicum and Bradyrhizobium elkanii superclades. In symbiotic gene phylogenies, Genisteae bradyrhizobia are scattered among several distinct clades, comprising strains that originate from phylogenetically distant legumes. This indicates that the capacity for nodulation of Genisteae spp. has evolved independently in various symbiotic gene clades, and that it has not been a long-multi-step process. The exception is Bradyrhizobium Clade II, which unlike other clades comprises strains that are specialized in nodulation of Genisteae, but also Loteae spp. Presumably, Clade II represents an example of long-lasting co-evolution of bradyrhizobial symbionts with their legume hosts.
Project description:Plant-associated bacteria exhibit a number of different strategies and specific genes allow bacteria to communicate and metabolically interact with plant tissues. Among the genes found in the genomes of plant-associated bacteria, the gene encoding the enzyme 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) deaminase (acdS) is one of the most diffused. This gene is supposed to be involved in the cleaving of plant-produced ACC, the precursor of the plant stress-hormone ethylene toning down the plant response to infection. However, few reports are present on the actual role in rhizobia, one of the most investigated groups of plant-associated bacteria. In particular, still unclear is the origin and the role of acdS in symbiotic competitiveness and on the selective benefit it may confer to plant symbiotic rhizobia. Here we present a phylogenetic and functional analysis of acdS orthologs in the rhizobium model-species Sinorhizobium meliloti. Results showed that acdS orthologs present in S. meliloti pangenome have polyphyletic origin and likely spread through horizontal gene transfer, mediated by mobile genetic elements. When acdS ortholog from AK83 strain was cloned and assayed in S. meliloti 1021 (lacking acdS), no modulation of plant ethylene levels was detected, as well as no increase in fitness for nodule occupancy was found in the acdS-derivative strain compared to the parental one. Surprisingly, AcdS was shown to confer the ability to utilize formamide and some dipeptides as sole nitrogen source. Finally, acdS was shown to be negatively regulated by a putative leucine-responsive regulator (LrpL) located upstream to acdS sequence (acdR). acdS expression was induced by root exudates of both legumes and non-leguminous plants. We conclude that acdS in S. meliloti is not directly related to symbiotic interaction, but it could likely be involved in the rhizospheric colonization or in the endophytic behavior.
Project description:To allow rhizobial infection of legume roots, plant cell walls must be locally degraded for plant-made infection threads (ITs) to be formed. Here we identify a Lotus japonicus nodulation pectate lyase gene (LjNPL), which is induced in roots and root hairs by rhizobial nodulation (Nod) factors via activation of the nodulation signaling pathway and the NIN transcription factor. Two Ljnpl mutants produced uninfected nodules and most infections arrested as infection foci in root hairs or roots. The few partially infected nodules that did form contained large abnormal infections. The purified LjNPL protein had pectate lyase activity, demonstrating that this activity is required for rhizobia to penetrate the cell wall and initiate formation of plant-made infection threads. Therefore, we conclude that legume-determined degradation of plant cell walls is required for root infection during initiation of the symbiotic interaction between rhizobia and legumes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Symbiotic bacteria known as rhizobia interact with the roots of legumes and induce the formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules. In rhizobia, essential genes for symbiosis are compartmentalized either in symbiotic plasmids or in chromosomal symbiotic islands. To understand the structure and evolution of the symbiotic genome compartments (SGCs), it is necessary to analyze their common genetic content and organization as well as to study their differences. To date, five SGCs belonging to distinct species of rhizobia have been entirely sequenced. We report the complete sequence of the symbiotic plasmid of Rhizobium etli CFN42, a microsymbiont of beans, and a comparison with other SGC sequences available. RESULTS: The symbiotic plasmid is a circular molecule of 371,255 base-pairs containing 359 coding sequences. Nodulation and nitrogen-fixation genes common to other rhizobia are clustered in a region of 125 kilobases. Numerous sequences related to mobile elements are scattered throughout. In some cases the mobile elements flank blocks of functionally related sequences, thereby suggesting a role in transposition. The plasmid contains 12 reiterated DNA families that are likely to participate in genomic rearrangements. Comparisons between this plasmid and complete rhizobial genomes and symbiotic compartments already sequenced show a general lack of synteny and colinearity, with the exception of some transcriptional units. There are only 20 symbiotic genes that are shared by all SGCs. CONCLUSIONS: Our data support the notion that the symbiotic compartments of rhizobia genomes are mosaic structures that have been frequently tailored by recombination, horizontal transfer and transposition.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The symbiotic interaction between leguminous plants and rhizobia involves two processes: bacterial infection, resulting in the penetration of bacteria in epidermal and cortical cells, and root nodule organogenesis. Root nodule symbiosis is activated by rhizobial signalling molecules, called Nodulation factors (NFs). NF perception induces the expression of several genes called early nodulins. The early nodulin N5 of Medicago truncatula is a lipid transfer protein that has been shown to positively regulate nodulation although it displays in vitro inhibitory activity against Sinorhizobium meliloti. The purpose of this work was to investigate the role of MtN5 by studying its spatial and temporal pattern of expression during the symbiotic interaction, also in relation to known components of the symbiotic signalling pathway, and by analysing the phenotypic alterations displayed by rhizobia-inoculated MtN5-silenced roots. RESULTS: We show here that MtN5 is a NF-responsive gene expressed at a very early phase of symbiosis in epidermal cells and root hairs. MtN5 expression is induced in vitro by rhizobial effector molecules and by auxin and cytokinin, phytohormones involved in nodule organogenesis. Furthermore, lipid signaling is implicated in the response of MtN5 to rhizobia, since the activity of phospholipase D is required for MtN5 induction in S. meliloti-inoculated roots. MtN5-silenced roots inoculated with rhizobia display an increased root hair curling and a reduced number of invaded primordia compared to that in wild type roots, but with no impairment to nodule primordia formation. This phenotype is associated with the stimulation of ENOD11 expression, an early marker of infection, and with the down-regulation of Flotillin 4 (FLOT4), a protein involved in rhizobial entry. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that MtN5 acts downstream of NF perception and upstream of FLOT4 in regulating pre-infection events. The positive effect of MtN5 on nodule primordia invasion is linked to the restriction of bacterial spread at the epidermal level. Furthermore, MtN5 seems to be dispensable for nodule primordia formation. These findings provide new information about the complex mechanism that controls the competence of root epidermal cells for rhizobial invasion.
Project description:It has long been known that the gaseous plant hormone ethylene plays a key role in nodulation in legumes. The perception of ethylene by a family of five membrane-localized receptors is necessary to trigger the ethylene signaling pathway, which regulates various biological responses in Arabidopsis. However, a systematic analysis of the ethylene receptors in leguminous plants and their roles in nodule development is lacking. In this study, we performed a characterization of ethylene receptor genes based on the latest Glycine max genome sequence and a public microarray database. Eleven ethylene receptor family genes were identified in soybean through homology searches, and they were divided into two subgroups. Exon-intron analysis showed that the gene structures are highly conserved within each group. Further analysis of their expression patterns showed that these ethylene receptor genes are differentially expressed in various soybean tissues and organs, including functional nodules. Notably, the ethylene receptor genes showed different responses to rhizobial infection and Nod factors, suggesting a possible role for ethylene receptors and ethylene signaling in rhizobia-host cell interactions and nodulation in soybean. Together, these data indicate the functional divergence of ethylene receptor genes in soybean, and that some of these receptors mediate nodulation, including rhizobial infection, nodule development, and nodule functionality. These findings provide a foundation for further elucidation of the molecular mechanism by which the ethylene signaling pathway regulates nodulation in soybean, as well as other legumes.
Project description:Populations of Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae were sampled from two bulk soils, rhizosphere, and nodules of host legumes, fava bean (Vicia faba) and pea (Pisum sativum) grown in the same soils. Additional populations nodulating peas, fava beans, and vetches (Vicia sativa) grown in other soils and fava bean-nodulating strains from various geographic sites were also analyzed. The rhizobia were characterized by repetitive extragenomic palindromic-PCR fingerprinting and/or PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of 16S-23S ribosomal DNA intergenic spacers as markers of the genomic background and PCR-RFLP of a nodulation gene region, nodD, as a marker of the symbiotic component of the genome. Pairwise comparisons showed differences among the genetic structures of the bulk soil, rhizosphere, and nodule populations and in the degree of host specificity within the Vicieae cross-inoculation group. With fava bean, the symbiotic genotype appeared to be the preponderant determinant of the success in nodule occupancy of rhizobial genotypes independently of the associated genomic background, the plant genotype, and the soil sampled. The interaction between one particular rhizobial symbiotic genotype and fava bean seems to be highly specific for nodulation and linked to the efficiency of nitrogen fixation. By contrast with bulk soil and fava bean-nodulating populations, the analysis of pea-nodulating populations showed preferential associations between genomic backgrounds and symbiotic genotypes. Both components of the rhizobial genome may influence competitiveness for nodulation of pea, and rhizosphere colonization may be a decisive step in competition for nodule occupancy.
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:Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of genomic islands is a driving force of bacterial evolution. Many pathogens and symbionts use this mechanism to spread mobile genetic elements that carry genes important for interaction with their eukaryotic hosts. However, the role of the host in this process remains unclear. Here, we show that plant compounds inducing the nodulation process in the rhizobium-legume mutualistic symbiosis also enhance the transfer of symbiosis islands. We demonstrate that the symbiosis island of the Sesbania rostrata symbiont, Azorhizobium caulinodans, is an 87.6-kb integrative and conjugative element (ICEAc) that is able to excise, form a circular DNA, and conjugatively transfer to a specific site of gly-tRNA gene of other rhizobial genera, expanding their host range. The HGT frequency was significantly increased in the rhizosphere. An ICEAc-located LysR-family transcriptional regulatory protein AhaR triggered the HGT process in response to plant flavonoids that induce the expression of nodulation genes through another LysR-type protein, NodD. Our study suggests that rhizobia may sense rhizosphere environments and transfer their symbiosis gene contents to other genera of rhizobia, thereby broadening rhizobial host-range specificity.