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Chemotaxis of Rhizobium meliloti towards Nodulation Gene-Inducing Compounds from Alfalfa Roots

  • Amitha J. Dharmatilake
  • Wolfgang D. Bauer
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1992
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Luteolin, a flavone present in seed exudates of alfalfa, induces nodulation genes (nod) in Rhizobium meliloti and also serves as a biochemically specific chemoattractant for the bacterium. The present work shows that R. meliloti RCR2011 is capable of very similar chemotactic responses towards 4′,7-dihydroxyflavone, 4′,7-Dihydroxyflavanone, and 4,4′-dihydroxy-2-methoxychalcone, the three principal nod gene inducers secreted by alfalfa roots. Chemotactic responses to the root-secreted nod inducers in capillary assays were usually two- to four-fold above background and, for the flavone and flavonone, occurred at concentrations lower than those required for half-maximal induction of the nodABC genes. Complementation experiments indicated that the lack of chemotactic responsiveness to luteolin seen in nodD1 and nodA mutants of R. meliloti was not due to mutations in the nod genes, as previously thought. Thus, while nod gene induction and flavonoid chemotaxis have the same biochemical specificity, these two functions appear to have independent receptors or transduction pathways. The wild-type strain was found to suffer selective, spontaneous loss of chemotaxis towards flavonoids during laboratory subculture.

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