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A ClC Chloride Channel Homolog and Ornithine-Containing Membrane Lipids of Rhizobium tropici CIAT899 Are Involved in Symbiotic Efficiency and Acid Tolerance

November 2005 , Volume 18 , Number  11
Pages  1,175 - 1,185

Keilor Rojas-Jiménez , 1 Christian Sohlenkamp , 2 Otto Geiger , 2 Esperanza Martínez-Romero , 2 Dietrich Werner , 1 and Pablo Vinuesa 1 , 2

1FB Biologie der Philipps-Universität, FG Zellbiologie und Angewandte Botanik, Karl-von-Frisch-Str., D-35032 Marburg, Germany; 2Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México

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Accepted 22 June 2005.

Rhizobium tropici CIAT899 is highly tolerant to several environmental stresses and is a good competitor for nodule occupancy of common bean plants in acid soils. Random transposon mutagenesis was performed to identify novel genes of this strain involved in symbiosis and stress tolerance. Here, we present a genetic analysis of the locus disrupted by the Tn5 insertion in mutant 899-PV9, which lead to the discovery of sycA, a homolog of the ClC family of chloride channels and Cl-/H+ exchange transporters. A nonpolar deletion in this gene caused serious deficiencies in nodule development, nodulation competitiveness, and N2 fixation on Phaseolus vulgaris plants, probably due to its reduced ability to invade plant cells and to form stable symbiosomes, as judged by electron transmission microscopy. A second gene (olsC), found downstream of sycA, is homologous to aspartyl/asparaginyl β-hydroxylases and modifies two species of ornithine-containing lipids in vivo, presumably by hydroxylation at a still-unknown position. A mutant carrying a nonpolar deletion in olsC is symbiotically defective, whereas overexpressed OlsC in the complemented strain provokes an acid-sensitive phenotype. This is the first report of a ClC homolog being essential for the establishment of a fully developed N2-fixing root nodule symbiosis and of a putative β-hydroxylase that modifies ornithine-containing membrane lipids of R. tropici CIAT899, which, in turn, are contributing to symbiotic performance and acid tolerance.

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society