Genes for the catabolism and synthesis of an opine-like compound in Rhizobium meliloti are closely linked and on the Sym plasmid

P. J. Murphy, N. Heycke, Z. Banfalvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Citations (Scopus)


In alfalfa nodules induced by Rhizobium meliloti strain L5-30 the compound L-3-O-methyl-scyllo-inosamine (3-O-MSI) is synthesized. This compound is also catabolized specifically by this strain. Its biological properties are therefore similar to the Agrobacterium opines. To answer the question whether opine-like compounds ('Rhizopines') play a role in a plant symbiotic interaction, we isolated the genes for the catabolism of 3-O-MSI (moc genes) and for the induction of its synthesis in the nodule [mos gene(s)]. moc and mos genes were shown to be closely linked and located on the Sym plasmid of L5-30, suggesting that they have co-evolved and may be important in symbiosis. These genes have been cloned into a broad host-range vector that can be mobilized into other R. meliloti strains where they are expressed. The location of the mos genes in the bacteria extends the opine concept, initially developed for a plant pathological interaction, to a symbiotic one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-497
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1987


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this