Format of Original
American Society for Microbiology
Journal of Bacteriology
Original Item ID
PubMed Central, PMCID: PMC205499
Purine auxotrophs of various Rhizobium species are symbiotically defective, usually unable to initiate or complete the infection process. Earlier studies demonstrated that, in the Rhizobium etli-bean symbiosis, infection by purine auxotrophs is partially restored by supplementation of the plant medium with 5-amino-imidazole-4-carboxamide (AICA) riboside, the unphosphorylated form of the purine biosynthetic intermediate AICAR. The addition of purine to the root environment does not have this effect. In this study, purine auxotrophs of Rhizobium fredii HH303 and Rhizobium leguminosarum 128C56 (bv. viciae) were examined. Nutritional and genetic characterization indicated that each mutant was blocked in purine biosynthesis prior to the production of AICAR. R. fredii HH303 and R. leguminosarum 128C56 appeared to be deficient in AICA riboside transport and/or conversion into AICAR, and the auxotrophs derived from them grew very poorly with AICA riboside as a purine source. All of the auxotrophs elicited poorly developed, uninfected nodules on their appropriate hosts. On peas, addition of AICA riboside or purine to the root environment led to enhanced nodulation; however, infection threads were observed only in the presence of AICA riboside. On soybeans, only AICA riboside was effective in enhancing nodulation and promoting infection. Although AICA riboside supplementation of the auxotrophs led to infection thread development on both hosts, the numbers of bacteria recovered from the nodules were still 2 or more orders of magnitude lower than in fully developed nodules populated by wild-type bacteria. The ability to AICA riboside to promote infection by purine auxotrophs, despite serving as a very poor purine source for these strains, supports the hypothesis that AICAR plays a role in infection other than merely promoting bacterial growth.