Endophytic Occupation of Root Nodules and Roots of Melilotus dentatus by Agrobacterium tumefaciens
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Agrobacterium strains have been frequently isolated from the root nodules of different legumes. Various possible mechanisms have been proposed to explain the existence of these bacteria in nodules, but there is no sufficient experimental evidence to support the estimations. In this work, we proved that the Agrobacterium strain CCBAU 81181, which was originally isolated from the root nodules of Onobrychis viciaefolia, and a symbiotic strain of Sinorhizobium meliloti CCBAU 10062 could coinhabit the root nodules of Melilotus dentatus. Analyses were performed by using a fluorescence marker, reisolation of bacteria from nodules, sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS–PAGE) of whole cellular proteins, and polymerase chain reaction amplification of symbiotic genes. The inoculation of A. tumefaciens CCBAU 81181 did not affect the growth and nodulation of plants. CCBAU 81181 and 24 other Agrobacterium strains isolated from nodules were incapable of nodulating on their original or alternative host and 22 strains of these strains were endophytes in the roots and stems of their hosts. Also, the tumor-inducing A. tumefaciens strains IAM 13129T and C58 were found capable of entering the roots of Glycyrrhiza pallidiflora, but did not cause pathogenic symptoms. With these results, we conclude that A. tumefaciens strains could be endophytic bacteria in the roots, stems, and root nodules. This finding partially explains why Agrobacterium strains were frequently isolated from the surface-sterilized nodules.
KeywordsRhizobium Root Nodule Agrobacterium Endophytic Bacterium Agrobacterium Strain
This work was supported by the State Key Basic Research and Development Plan of China (2006CB100206, 2004DKA30560-1 and 2001CB108905). E.T.W. thanks CONACyT, Mexico, for their financial support (grant number 34123-N).
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