Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
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Accepted 8 February 2005.
Genes thuA and thuB in Sinorhizobium meliloti Rm1021 code for a major pathway for trehalose catabolism and are induced by trehalose but not by related structurally similar disaccharides like sucrose or maltose. S. meliloti strains mutated in either of these two genes were severely impaired in their ability to grow on trehalose as the sole source of carbon. ThuA and ThuB show no homology to any known enzymes in trehalose utilization. ThuA has similarity to proteins of unknown function in Mesorhizobium loti, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and Brucella melitensis, and ThuB possesses homology to dehydrogenases containing the consensus motif AGKHVXCEKP. thuAB genes are expressed in bacteria growing on the root surface and in the infection threads but not in the symbiotic zone of the nodules. Even though thuA and thuB mutants were impaired in competitive colonization of Medicago sativa roots, these strains were more competitive than the wild-type Rm1021 in infecting alfalfa roots and forming nitrogen-fixing nodules. Possible reasons for their increased competitiveness are discussed.
© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society