, Volume 203, Issue 2, pp 320-323

A mutation that blocks exopolysaccharide synthesis prevents nodulation of peas by Rhizobium leguminosarum but not of beans by R. phaseoli and is corrected by cloned DNA from Rhizobium or the phytopathogen Xanthomonas

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Summary

A Tn5-induced mutant strain of R. phaseoli which failed to synthesize exopolysaccharide (EPS) was isolated and was shown to induce normal nitrogen-fixing nodules on Phaseolus beans, the host of this Rhizobium species. The corresponding wild-type Rhizobium DNA was cloned in a wide host-range vector and by isolating Tn5 insertions in this cloned DNA, mutations in a gene termed pss (polysaccharide synthesis) were isolated. These were introduced by marker exchange into near-isogenic strains of R. leguminosarum and R. phaseoli which differed only in the identity of their symbiotic plasmids. Whereas the EPS-deficient mutant strain of R. phaseoli induced normal nitrogen-fixing nodules on Phaseolus beans, the same mutation prevented nodulation of peas by a strain of R. leguminosarum which normally nodulates this host. Further, it was found that DNA cloned from the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pathover campestris could correct the defect in EPS synthesis in R. leguminosarum and R. phaseoli and also restored the ability to nodulate peas to the pss::Tn5 mutant strain of R. leguminosarum.

Communicated by C. Auerbach