Scientific article
Open access

An evolutionary Hot Spot: the pNGR234b Replicon of Rhizobium sp. Strain NGR234

Published inJournal of bacteriology, vol. 186, no. 2, p. 535-542
Publication date2004

Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 has an exceptionally broad host range and is able to nodulate more than 112 genera of legumes. Since the overall organization of the NGR234 genome is strikingly similar to that of the narrow-host-range symbiont Rhizobium meliloti strain 1021 (also known as Sinorhizobium meliloti), the obvious question is why are the spectra of hosts so different? Study of the early symbiotic genes of both bacteria (carried by the SymA plasmids) did not provide obvious answers. Yet, both rhizobia also possess second megaplasmids that bear, among many other genes, those that are involved in the synthesis of extracellular polysaccharides (EPSs). EPSs are involved in fine-tuning symbiotic interactions and thus may help answer the broad- versus narrow-host-range question. Accordingly, we sequenced two fragments (total, 594 kb) that encode 575 open reading frames (ORFs). Comparisons revealed 19 conserved gene clusters with high similarity to R. meliloti, suggesting that a minimum of 28% (158 ORFs) of the genetic information may have been acquired from a common ancestor. The largest conserved cluster carried the exo and exs genes and contained 31 ORFs. In addition, nine highly conserved regions with high similarity to Agrobacterium tumefaciens C58, Bradyrhizobium japonicum USDA110, and Mesorhizobium loti strain MAFF303099, as well as two conserved clusters that are highly homologous to similar regions in the plant pathogen Erwinia carotovora, were identified. Altogether, these findings suggest that >40% of the pNGR234b genes are not strain specific and were probably acquired from a wide variety of other microbes. The presence of 26 ORFs coding for transposases and site-specific integrases supports this contention. Surprisingly, several genes involved in the degradation of aromatic carbon sources and genes coding for a type IV pilus were also found.

Citation (ISO format)
STREIT, W. R. et al. An evolutionary Hot Spot: the pNGR234<i>b</i> Replicon of <i>Rhizobium</i> sp. Strain NGR234. In: Journal of bacteriology, 2004, vol. 186, n° 2, p. 535–542. doi: 10.1128/JB.186.2.535-542.2004
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ISSN of the journal0021-9193

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