Apr 25, 2020

Symbiotic and non-symbiotic members of the genus Ensifer (syn. Sinorhizobium) are separated into two clades based on comparative genomics and high-throughput phenotyping

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
C. FagorziGeorge C diCenzo


Rhizobium - legume symbioses serve as a paradigmatic example for the study of mutualism evolution. The genus Ensifer (syn. Sinorhizobium) contains diverse plant-associated bacteria, a subset of which can fix nitrogen in symbiosis with legumes. To gain insights into the evolution of symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF), and inter-kingdom mutualisms more generally, we performed extensive phenotypic, genomic, and phylogenetic analyses of the genus Ensifer. The data suggest that SNF emerged several times within the genus Ensifer, likely through independent horizontal gene transfer events. Yet, the majority (105 of 106) of the Ensifer strains with the nodABC and nifHDK nodulation and nitrogen fixation genes were found within a single, monophyletic clade. Comparative genomics highlighted several differences between the "symbiotic" and "non-symbiotic" clades, including divergences in their pangenome content. Additionally, strains of the symbiotic clade carried 325 fewer genes, on average, and appeared to have fewer rRNA operons than strains of the non-symbiotic clade. Characterizing a subset of ten Ensifer strains identified several phenotypic differences between the clades. Strains of the non-symbiotic clade could catabolize 25% more ca...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Complex (molecular entity)
Molecular Probe Techniques
Genomic Stability
Protein Localization Location
Protein Function
Human gene

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