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Bacteroid differentiation in Aeschynomene legumes

Abstract : The ability of legumes to acquire sufficient nitrogen from the symbiosis with Rhizobium relies on the intimate contact between the endosymbiotic, intracellular rhizobia, called bacteroids, and their host cells, the symbiotic nodule cells. A well-studied example is the symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti, which nodulates the legume Medicago truncatula. Nodules of M. truncatula produce an enormous diversity of peptides called NCRs which are similar to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) of innate immune systems. These NCRs are involved in maintaining the homeostasis between the host cells in the nodules and the large bacterial population they contain. Although many NCRs are genuine AMPs which kill microbes in vitro, in nodule cells they do not kill the bacteria but induce them into the terminally differentiated bacteroid state involving cell elongation, genome amplification, membrane fragilization and loss of cell division capacity. Protection against the antimicrobial action of NCRs by the bacterial BacA protein is critical for bacteroid survival in the symbiotic cells and thus for symbiosis. As a part of my PhD thesis, I have shown that the differentiation of the symbiotic cells in M. truncatula is associated with a tremendous transcriptional reprogramming involving hundreds of genes, mainly NCR genes, which are only expressed in these cells. Although the extensive work on the model M. truncatula/S. meliloti, little is known how the plant controls its intracellular population and imposes its differentiation into a functional form, the bacteroids in other symbiotic systems.In my PhD work, I provide several independent pieces of evidence to show that tropical legumes of the Aeschynomene genus which belong to the Dalbergoid legume clade use a different class of cysteine rich peptides (NCR-like) to govern bacteroid differentiation. This mechanism is similar to the one previously described in Medicago which was up to now assumed to be restricted to the advanced IRLC legume clade, to which it belongs. I have also shown that the Bradyrhizobium symbionts of Aeschynomene legumes possess a multidrug transporter, named BclA, which mediates the import of a diversity of peptides including NCR peptides. In the absence of this transporter, the rhizobia do not differentiate and do not fix nitrogen. BclA has a transmembrane domain of the same family as the transmembrane domain of the BacA transporter of Rhizobium and Sinorhizobium species which is known to be required in these rhizobia to respond to the NCR peptides of IRLC legumes. Again this is a mechanism which is analogous to the one described in S. meliloti the symbiont of Medicago.This study broaden our knowledge on the evolution of symbiosis by showing that the modus operandi involving peptides derived from innate immunity used by some legumes to keep their intracellular bacterial population under control is more widespread and ancient than previously thought and has been invented by evolution several times.
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Submitted on : Friday, October 23, 2015 - 10:23:06 AM
Last modification on : Monday, February 10, 2020 - 6:13:58 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01219710, version 1


Ibtissem Guefrachi. Bacteroid differentiation in Aeschynomene legumes. Molecular biology. Université Paris Sud - Paris XI; Université de Carthage (Tunisie), 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015PA112113⟩. ⟨tel-01219710⟩



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