Bradyrhizobium japonicum strain USDA 110 is restricted for nodulation by soybean genotype PI 417566. We previously reported the identification of a USDA 110 Tn5 mutant, strain D4.2-5, that had the ability to overcome nodulation restriction conditioned by PI 417566 (S. M. Lohrke, J. H. Orf, E. Martinez-Romero, and M. J. Sadowsky, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61:2378-2383, 1995). In this study, we report the cloning and characterization of the negatively acting DNA region mutated in strain D4.2-5 that is involved in the genotype-specific nodulation of soybean. The Tn5 integration site was localized to a 5.2-kb EcoRI fragment isolated from wild-type USDA 110 genomic DNA. Saturation Tn5 mutagenesis of this 5.2-kb region and DNA homogenitization studies indicated that a 0.9-kb DNA region was involved in the genotype-specific nodulation of PI 417566. A single open reading frame (ORF) of 474 nucleotides, encoding a predicted protein of 158 amino acids, was identified within this region by DNA sequencing. This ORF was named noeD. Computer comparisons with available data bases revealed no significant similarities between the noeD DNA or predicted amino acid sequence and any known genes or their products. However, comparisons done with the region upstream of noeD revealed a high degree of similarity (about 76% similarity and 62% identity) to the N-terminal regions of the Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae and R. meliloti nodM genes, which have been postulated to encode a glucosamine synthase. Southern hybridization analysis indicated that noeD is not closely linked to the main or auxiliary nodulation gene dusters in B. japonicum and that both nodulation-restricted and -unrestricted B. japonicum serogroup 110 strains contain a noeD homolog. High-performance liquid chromatography and fast atom bombardment-mass spectrometry analyses of the lipo-chitin oligosaccharide (LCO) nodulation signals produced by an noeD mutant showed a higher level of acetylation than that found with wild-type USDA 110. These results suggest that specific LCO signal molecules may be one of the factors influencing nodulation specificity in this symbiotic system.
- Nod factors