In the rhizosphere and their interaction with plants rhizobia encounter many different plant compounds, including phytohormones like auxins. Moreover, some rhizobial strains are capable of producing the auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). However, the role of IAA for the bacterial partner in the legume-Rhizobium symbiosis is not known. To identify the effect of IAA on rhizobial gene expression, a transposon (mTn5gusA-oriV) mutant library of Rhizobium etli, enriched for mutants that show differential gene expression under microaerobiosis and/or addition of nodule extracts as compared with control conditions, was screened for altered gene expression upon IAA addition. Four genes were found to be regulated by IAA. These genes appear to be involved in plant signal processing, motility or attachment to plant roots, clearly demonstrating a distinct role for IAA in legume-Rhizobium interactions.
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