Analysis of metal tolerance inRhizobium leguminosarumstrains isolated from an ultramafic soil

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Abstract

Natural habitats containing high amounts of heavy metals provide a valuable source of bacteria adapted to deal with metal toxicity. A functional analysis of the population of legume endosymbiotic bacteria in an ultramafic soil was undertaken by studying a collection of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv viciae (Rlv) isolates obtained using pea as trap plant. One of the isolates, Rlv UPM1137, was selected on the basis of its higher tolerance to nickel and cobalt and presence of inducible mechanisms for such tolerance. A random transposon mutagenesis of Rlv UPM1137 allowed the generation of 14 transposant derivatives with increased nickel sensitivity; five of these transposants were also more sensitive to cobalt. Sequencing of the insertion sites revealed that one of the transposants (D2250) was affected in a gene homologous to the cation diffusion facilitator gene dmeF first identified in the metal-resistant bacterium Cupriavidus metallidurans CH34. The symbiotic performance of D2250 and two other transposants bearing single transposon insertions was unaffected under high-metal conditions, suggesting that, in contrast to previous observations in other Rlv strain, metal tolerance in UPM1137 under symbiotic conditions might be supported by functional redundancy between several mechanisms.

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