The Type VI secretion system of Rhizobium etli Mim1 has a positive effect in symbiosis

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 May 1;95(5):fiz054. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiz054.


The Type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) allow bacteria to translocate effector proteins to other bacteria or to eukaryotic cells. However, little is known about the role of T6SS in endosymbiotic bacteria. In this work we describe the T6SS of Rhizobium etli Mim1, a bacteria able to effectively nodulate common beans. Structural genes and those encoding possible effectors have been identified in a 28-gene DNA region of R. etli Mim1 pRetMIM1f plasmid. Immunodetection of Hcp protein, a conserved key structural component of T6SS systems, indicates that this secretion system is active at high cell densities, in the presence of root exudates, and in bean nodules. Rhizobium etli mutants affected in T6SS structural genes produced plants with lower dry weight and smaller nodules than the wild-type strain, indicating for the first time that the T6SS plays a positive role in Rhizobium-legume symbiosis.

Keywords: Rhizobium etli; Rhizobium–legume symbiosis; Type VI secretion; effector.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fabaceae / microbiology*
  • Fabaceae / physiology
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Rhizobium etli / genetics
  • Rhizobium etli / metabolism*
  • Symbiosis*
  • Type VI Secretion Systems / genetics
  • Type VI Secretion Systems / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Type VI Secretion Systems