Characterisation of a novel type of surface polar attachment induced in Rhizobium leguminosarum by a pea root exudate metabolite

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


Interactions between rhizobia and legumes are usually considered to be initiated by plant-made flavonoids, which induce rhizobial nodulation (nod) genes. Our analysis of biofilm formation by Rhizobium leguminosarum has enabled us to identify a hitherto unrecognised aspect of rhizobial-legume communication totally independent of plant-made flavonoids and rhizobial nod genes. In static culture, R. leguminosarum cells attach to the glass surface side-on along their longitudinal axes in long chains of bacteria lying side-by-side. We have identified and purified a metabolite from pea root exudate which induces R. leguminnosarum to attach end-on (analogous to end-on attachment observed on root hairs) to glass in what appears to be haxagonal close-packed arrays). This proposal aims to chemically identify the factor inducing end-on attachment, understand its mode of action and determine the mechanism of end-on attachment that is induced. This will involve using microarrays to identify induced changes in gene expression and mutating induced genes to identify which are required for end-on attachment. The regulatory mechanism of gene induction will be identified by analysing transcript start sites and identifying mutants defective for gene induction by the factor. The timing and location of gene induction will be measured in situ and the cellular localisation of induced proteins will be analysed using translational GFP fusions. Using the mutants generated, the role of end-on attachment during nodulation, and the effects of pre-induction (and constitutive expression) of the genes will be assessed in competitive nodulation experiments.


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