Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 81, Issue 1–4, pp 397–407 | Cite as

Quorum-sensing in Rhizobium



Quorum-sensing signals are found in many species of legume-nodulating rhizobia. In a well-characterized strain of R. leguminosarum biovar viciae, a variety of autoinducers are synthesised, and all have been identified as N-acyl-homoserine lactones. One of these N-acyl-homoserine lactones, is N-(3-hydroxy-7-cis-tetradecenoyl)-L-homoserine lactone, previously known as small bacteriocin, which inhibits the growth of several R. leguminosarum strains. The cinRI locus is responsible for the production of small bacteriocin. CinR induces cinI in response to the AHL made by CinI, thus forming a positive autoregulatory induction loop. A complex cascade of quorum-sensing loops was characterized, in which the cinIR locus appears to be the master control for three other AHL-dependent quorum-sensing control systems. These systems include the raiI/raiR, traI/triR and rhiI/rhiR. Other rhizobial strains appear to share some of these quorum sensing loci, but not all loci are found in all strains. Small bacteriocin along with the other N-acyl-homoserine lactones produced by these three AHL-based control systems regulate (i) growth inhibition of sensitive strains, (ii) transfer of the symbiotic plasmid pRL1JI, and (iii) expression of the rhizosphere-expressed (rhi) genes that influence nodulation. Some of the genes regulated by these systems have been identified. While the functions of some, such as the trb operon regulated by triR are clear, several of the regulated genes have no homologues of known function. It is anticipated that several other genes regulated by these systems have yet to be identified. Therefore, despite the regulation of one of the most complex quorum-sensing cascade being understood, several of the functions regulated by the quorum-sensing genes remain to be elucidated.

autoinducer bacteriocin legumes N-acyl-homoserine-lactone nodulation quorum-sensing Rhizobium symbiosis 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d'Écologie MicrobienneUMR-CNRS 5557, UniversitéVilleurbanne cedexFrance
  2. 2.John Innes CentreNorwichUK

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