Rhizobial extrachromosomal replicon variability, stability and expression in natural niches

Plasmid. 2012 Nov;68(3):149-58. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2012.07.002. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


In bacteria, niche adaptation may be determined by mobile extrachromosomal elements. A remarkable characteristic of Rhizobium and Ensifer (Sinorhizobium) but also of Agrobacterium species is that almost half of the genome is contained in several large extrachromosomal replicons (ERs). They encode a plethora of functions, some of them required for bacterial survival, niche adaptation, plasmid transfer or stability. In spite of this, plasmid loss is common in rhizobia upon subculturing. Rhizobial gene-expression studies in plant rhizospheres with novel results from transcriptomic analysis of Rhizobium phaseoli in maize and Phaseolus vulgaris roots highlight the role of ERs in natural niches and allowed the identification of common extrachromosomal genes expressed in association with plant rootlets and the replicons involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agrobacterium / genetics
  • Agrobacterium / metabolism
  • Extrachromosomal Inheritance
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phaseolus / microbiology
  • Plant Roots / genetics*
  • Plasmids* / genetics
  • Plasmids* / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Replicon
  • Rhizobium* / genetics
  • Rhizobium* / metabolism
  • Rhizosphere
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sinorhizobium / genetics
  • Sinorhizobium / metabolism
  • Zea mays / microbiology


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S