RNA-seq analysis of the Rhizobium tropici CIAT 899 transcriptome shows similarities in the activation patterns of symbiotic genes in the presence of apigenin and salt

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Abstract

© 2016 Pérez-Montaño et al.Background: Rhizobium tropici strain CIAT 899 establishes effective symbioses with several legume species, including Phaseolus vulgaris and Leucaena leucocephala. This bacterium synthesizes a large variety of nodulation factors in response to nod-gene inducing flavonoids and, surprisingly, also under salt stress conditions. The aim of this study was to identify differentially expressed genes in the presence of both inducer molecules, and analyze the promoter regions located upstream of these genes. Results: Results obtained by RNA-seq analyses of CIAT 899 induced with apigenin, a nod gene-inducing flavonoid for this strain, or salt allowed the identification of 19 and 790 differentially expressed genes, respectively. Fifteen of these genes were up-regulated in both conditions and were involved in the synthesis of both Nod factors and indole-3-acetic acid. Transcription of these genes was presumably activated through binding of at least one of the five NodD proteins present in this strain to specific nod box promoter sequences when the bacterium was induced by both apigenin and salt. Finally, under saline conditions, many other transcriptional responses were detected, including an increase in the transcription of genes involved in trehalose catabolism, chemotaxis and protein secretion, as well as ribosomal genes, and a decrease in the transcription of genes involved in transmembrane transport. Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first time that a transcriptomic study shows that salt stress induces the expression of nodulation genes in the absence of flavonoids. Thus, in the presence of both nodulation inducer molecules, apigenin and salt, R. tropici CIAT 899 up-regulated the same set of symbiotic genes. It could be possible that the increases in the transcription levels of several genes related to nodulation under saline conditions could represent a strategy to establish symbiosis under abiotic stressing conditions.

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Pérez-Montaño, F., del Cerro, P., Jiménez-Guerrero, I., López-Baena, F. J., Cubo, M. T., Hungria, M., … Ollero, F. J. (2016). RNA-seq analysis of the Rhizobium tropici CIAT 899 transcriptome shows similarities in the activation patterns of symbiotic genes in the presence of apigenin and salt. BMC Genomics, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-2543-3

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