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A Rhizobium leguminosarum Lipopolysaccharide Lipid-A Mutant Induces Nitrogen-Fixing Nodules with Delayed and Defective Bacteroid Formation

March 2004 , Volume 17 , Number  3
Pages  283 - 291

Vinata Vedam , 2 , 1 Janine G. Haynes , 1 Elmar L. Kannenberg , 3 , 2 Russell W. Carlson , 2 and D. Janine Sherrier 1

1Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19711, U.S.A.; 2Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, University of Georgia, 220 Riverbend Road, Athens, GA 30602, U.S.A.; 3Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Tubingen, D072076 Tubingen, Germany

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Accepted 20 October 2003.

Lipopolysaccharides from pea-nodulating strain Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae 3841, as all other members of the family Rhizobiaceae with the possible exception of Azorhizobium caulinodans, contains a very long chain fatty acid; 27-hydroxyoctacosanoic acid (27OHC28:0) in its lipid A region. The exact function and importance of this residue, however, is not known. In this work, a previously constructed mutant, Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae 22, deficient in the fatty acid residue, was analyzed for its symbiotic phenotype. While the mutant was able to form nitrogen-fixing nodules, a detailed study of the timing and efficiency of nodulation using light and electron microscopy showed that there was a delay in the onset of nodulation and nodule tissue invasion. Further, microscopy showed that the mutant was unable to differentiate normally forming numerous irregularly shaped bacteroids, that the resultant mature bacteroids were unusually large, and that several bacteroids were frequently enclosed in a single symbiosome membrane, a feature not observed with parent bacteroids. In addition, the mutant nodules were delayed in the onset of nitrogenase production and showed reduced nitrogenase throughout the testing period. These results imply that the lack of 27OHC28:0 in the lipid A in mutant bacteroids results in altered membrane properties that are essential for the development of normal bacteroids.

Additional keywords: bacteroid membrane.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society