K. Dale Noel,2
William J. Broughton,1 and
William J. Deakin1
1Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes Supérieures (LBMPS), Université de Genève, 30 Quai Ernest-Ansermet, Sciences III, 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland; 2Department of Biology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53233, U.S.A.
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Accepted 13 July 2011.
In the presence of flavonoids, Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 synthesizes a new lipopolysaccharide (LPS), characterized by a rhamnan O-antigen. The presence of this rhamnose-rich LPS is important for the establishment of competent symbiotic interactions between NGR234 and many species of leguminous plants. Two putative rhamnosyl transferases are encoded in a cluster of genes previously shown to be necessary for the synthesis of the rhamnose-rich LPS. These two genes, wbgA and rgpF, were mutated. The resulting mutant strains synthesized truncated rough LPS species rather than the wild-type rhamnose-rich LPS when grown with flavonoids. Based on the compositions of these purified mutant LPS species, we inferred that RgpF is responsible for adding the first one to three rhamnose residues to the flavonoid-induced LPS, whereas WbgA is necessary for the synthesis of the rest of the rhamnan O-antigen. The NGR234 homologue of lpsB, which, in other bacteria, encodes a glycosyl transferase acting early in synthesis of the core portion of LPS, was identified and also mutated. LpsB was required for all the LPS species produced by NGR234, in the presence or absence of flavonoids. Mutants (i.e., of lpsB and rgpF) that lacked any portion of the rhamnan O-antigen of the induced LPS were severely affected in their symbiotic interaction with Vigna unguiculata, whereas the NGR&OHgr;wbgA mutant, although having very few rhamnose residues in its LPS, was able to elicit functional nodules.
© 2011 The American Phytopathological Society