Analysis of pss genes of Rhizobium leguminosarum required for exopolysaccharide synthesis and nodulation of peas: their primary structure and their interaction with psi and other nodulation genes

Mol Gen Genet. 1988 Jul;213(1):155-62. doi: 10.1007/BF00333413.


Strains of Rhizobium leguminosarum (R.l.) biovar viciae containing pss mutations fail to make the acidic exopolysaccharides (EPS) and are unable to nodulate peas. It was found that they also failed to nodulate Vicia hirsuta, another host of this biovar. When peas were co-inoculated with pss mutant derivatives of a strain of R.l. by viciae containing a sym plasmid plus a cured strain lacking a sym plasmid (and which is thus Nod-, but for different reasons) but which makes the acidic EPS, normal numbers of nodules were formed, the majority of which failed to fix nitrogen (the occasional Fix+ nodules were presumably induced by strains that arose as a result of genetic exchange between cells of the two inoculants in the rhizosphere). Bacteria from the Fix- nodules contained, exclusively, the strain lacking its sym plasmid. When pss mutant strains were co-inoculated with a Nod- strain with a mutation in the regulatory gene nodD (which is on the sym plasmid pRL1JI), normal numbers of Fix+ nodules were formed, all of which were occupied solely by the nodD mutant strain. Since a mutation in nodD abolishes activation of other nod genes required for early stages of infection, these nod genes appear to be dispensable for subsequent stages in nodule development. Recombinant plasmids, containing cloned pss genes, overcame the inhibitory effects of psi, a gene which when cloned in the plasmid vector pKT230, inhibits both EPS production and nodulation ability. Determination of the sequence of the pss DNA showed that one, or perhaps two, genes are required for correcting strains that either carry pss mutations or contain multi-copy psi.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • Fabaceae / physiology
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nitrogen Fixation / genetics*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Plasmids
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Rhizobium / genetics*
  • Rhizobium / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X12568