R. meliloti primarily nodulates Medicago sativa but cannot nodulate Macroptilium atropurpureum. By introducing an 11.4 kb region into R. meliloti from the Symplasmid of Rhizobium strain MPIK3030, the host range of the R. meliloti transconjugants were shown to be extended to M. atropurpureum, one of the hosts of MPIK3030 but not normally nodulated by R. meliloti. The region responsible for host range extension was isolated by mass conjugating a clone bank from MPIK3030 into the R. meliloti wild type, and subsequent screening for nodulation on M. atropurpureum. Using deleted derivatives of a plasmid reisolated from endosymbiotic bacteria, the host range region was further narrowed down to three EcoRI fragments. Tn5 mutagenesis allowed the isolation of three discrete regions on an 11.4 kb section, which are involved in the extension of host range to M. atropurpureum. Finally, complementation experiments performed with R. meliloti common nod and hsn mutants indicated that none of the genes involved in the early steps of nodulation, including host-range functions, can be complemented by genes carried on the 11.4 kb fragment derived from MPIK3030.
- Tn5 mutagenesis
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