Genomic Diversity in the Endosymbiotic Bacterium Rhizobium leguminosarum

Genes (Basel). 2018 Jan 24;9(2):60. doi: 10.3390/genes9020060.


Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae is a soil α-proteobacterium that establishes a diazotrophic symbiosis with different legumes of the Fabeae tribe. The number of genome sequences from rhizobial strains available in public databases is constantly increasing, although complete, fully annotated genome structures from rhizobial genomes are scarce. In this work, we report and analyse the complete genome of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae UPM791. Whole genome sequencing can provide new insights into the genetic features contributing to symbiotically relevant processes such as bacterial adaptation to the rhizosphere, mechanisms for efficient competition with other bacteria, and the ability to establish a complex signalling dialogue with legumes, to enter the root without triggering plant defenses, and, ultimately, to fix nitrogen within the host. Comparison of the complete genome sequences of two strains of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae, 3841 and UPM791, highlights the existence of different symbiotic plasmids and a common core chromosome. Specific genomic traits, such as plasmid content or a distinctive regulation, define differential physiological capabilities of these endosymbionts. Among them, strain UPM791 presents unique adaptations for recycling the hydrogen generated in the nitrogen fixation process.

Keywords: Rhizobium leguminosarum; genome; nitrogen fixation; plasmid; symbiosis.