Comparison of the chemotactic behaviour of Rhizobium leguminosarum with and without the nodulation plasmid



The chemotactic behaviour of a strain of Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae was investigated. The flavanoids apigenin and naringenin, inducers of transcription of the nodulation (nod) genes, were both potent attractants but hesperitin, another flavone nod gene inducer, was not. The response of strains containing the Sym plasmid pRL1JI to apigenin and naringenin was significantly greater than the response of a strain cured of the plasmid, although both strains gave a positive response. Addition of the flavanol kaempferol, an antagonist of nod gene induction, had no detectable effect on the chemotactic response to naringenin or aplgenin, but was itself found to be an attractant. The attractant response to a variety of amino acids and sugars was not affected by the presence of the Sym plasmid. Homoserine, the most abundant nitrogenous compound in legume exudates, was also found to be an attractant. However, although the Sym plasmid is required for the biovar to metabolize homoserine as a carbon source, it was not required for the chemotactic response. A group of membrane proteins showed increased methylation in response to stimulation with serine. There was no measurable change in methylation after stimulation with apigenin.