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Potential Symbiosis-Specific Genes Uncovered By Sequencing A 410-Kilobase DNA Region Of The Bradyrhizobium Japonicum Chromosome

Michael Göttfert, Sandra Röthlisberger, Christoph Kündig, Christoph Beck, Roger Marty, Hauke Hennecke

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ABSTRACT The physical and genetic map of the Bradyrhizobium japonicum chromosome revealed that nitrogen fixation and nodulation genes are clustered. Because of the complex interactions between the bacterium and the plant, we expected this chromosomal sector to contain additional genes that are involved in the maintenance of an efficient symbiosis. Therefore, we determined the nucleotide sequence of a 410-kb region. The overall G+C nucleotide content was 59.1%. Using a minimum gene length of 150 nucleotides, 388 open reading frames (ORFs) were selected as coding regions. Thirty-five percent of the predicted proteins showed similarity to proteins of rhizobia. Sixteen percent were similar only to proteins of other bacteria. No database match was found for 29%. Repetitive DNA sequence-derived ORFs accounted for the rest. The sequenced region contained all nitrogen fixation genes and, apart from nodM, all nodulation genes that were known to exist in B. japonicum. We found several genes that seem to encode transport systems for ferric citrate, molybdate, or carbon sources. Some of them are preceded by −24/−12 promoter elements. A number of putative outer membrane proteins and cell wall-modifying enzymes as well as a type III secretion system might be involved in the interaction with the host.