American Society for Microbiology
Journal of Bacteriology
Rhizobium phaseoli CFN42 DNA was mutated by random insertion of Tn5 from suicide plasmid pJB4JI to obtain independently arising strains that were defective in symbiosis with Phaseolus vulgaris but grew normally outside the plant. When these mutants were incubated with the plant, one did not initiate visible nodule tissue (Nod-), seven led to slow nodule development (Ndv), and two led to superficially normal early nodule development but lacked symbiotic nitrogenase activity (Sna-). The Nod- mutant lacked the large transmissible indigenous plasmid pCFN42d that has homology to Klebsiella pneumoniae nitrogenase (nif) genes. The other mutants had normal plasmid content. In the two Sna- mutants and one Ndv mutant, Tn5 had inserted into plasmid pCFN42d outside the region of nif homology. The insertions of the other Ndv mutants were apparently in the chromosome. They were not in plasmids detected on agarose gels, and, in contrast to insertions on indigenous plasmids, they were transmitted in crosses to wild-type strain CFN42 at the same frequency as auxotrophic markers and with the same enhancement of transmission by conjugation plasmid R68.45. In these Ndv mutants the Tn5 insertions were the same as or very closely linked to mutations causing the Ndv phenotype. However, in two mutants with Tn5 insertions on plasmid pCFN42d, an additional mutation on the same plasmid, rather than Tn5, was responsible for the Sna- or Ndv phenotype. When plasmid pJB4JI was transferred to two other R. phaseoli strains, analysis of symbiotic mutants was complicated by Tn5-containing deleted forms of pJB4JI that were stably maintained.