Annotation of the pRhico plasmid of Azospirillum brasilense reveals its role in determining the outer surface composition


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The plant growth-promoting soil bacterium Azospirillum brasilense enhances growth of economically important crops, such as wheat, corn and rice. In order to improve plant growth, a close bacterial association with the plant roots is needed. Genes encoded on a 90-MDa plasmid, denoted pRhico plasmid, present in A. brasilense Sp7, play an important role in plant root interaction. Sequencing, annotation and in silico analysis of this 90-MDa plasmid revealed the presence of a large collection of genes encoding enzymes involved in surface polysaccharide biosynthesis. Analysis of the 90-MDa plasmid genome provided evidence for its essential role in the viability of the bacterial cell.