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rosR, a Determinant of Nodulation Competitiveness in Rhizobium etli

March 1997 , Volume 10 , Number  2
Pages  180 - 186

Mark A. Bittinger , 1 Jocelyn L. Milner , 2 Barry J. Saville , 3 and Jo Handelsman 1 , 2

1Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison 53706 U.S.A.; 2Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison 53706 U.S.A.; 3Department of Botany, Erindale College, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario L5L IC6 Canada

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Accepted 13 November 1996.

We previously described a Tn5 mutant of Rhizobium etli strain CE3, designated CE3003, that is decreased in nodulation competitiveness, reduced in competitive growth in the rhizosphere, and has a hydrophobic cell surface (R. S. Araujo, E. A. Robleto, and J. Handelsman, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 60:1430--1436, 1994). To determine the molecular basis for the mutant phenotypes, we identified a 1.2-kb fragment of DNA derived from the parent that restored the wild-type phenotypes to the mutant. DNA sequence analysis indicated that this 1.2-kb fragment contained a single open reading frame that we designated rosR. The Tn5 insertion in CE3003 was within rosR. We constructed a derivative of CE3 that contained a deletion in rosR, and this mutant was phenotypically indistinguishable from CE3003 in cell surface and competitive characteristics. Based on the nucleotide sequence, the deduced RosR amino acid sequence is 80% identical to that of the Ros protein from Agrobacterium tumefaciens and the MucR protein from Rhizobium meliloti. Both Ros and MucR are transcriptional repressors that contain a putative zinc-finger DNA-binding domain. This study defines a gene, rosR, that is homologous to a family of transcriptional regulators and contributes to nodulation competitiveness of R. etli. Moreover, we established that a single gene affects nodulation competitiveness, competitive growth in the rhizosphere, and cell surface hydrophobicity.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society