Root nodulation and infection factors produced by rhizobial bacteria

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2000;54:257-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.54.1.257.


Rhizobia are soil bacteria that can engage in a symbiosis with leguminous plants that produces nitrogen-fixing root nodules. This symbiosis is based on specific recognition of signal molecules, which are produced by both the bacterial and plant partners. In this review, recognition factors from the bacterial endosymbionts are discussed, with particular attention to secreted and cell surface glycans. Glycans that are discussed include the Nod factors, the extracellular polysaccharides, the lipopolysaccharides, the K-antigens, and the cyclic glucans. Recent advances in the understanding of the biosynthesis, secretion, and regulation of production of these glycans are reviewed, and their functions are compared with glycans produced by other bacteria, such as plant pathogens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cell Communication
  • Fabaceae / microbiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Rhizobiaceae / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Symbiosis*


  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial