Symbiotic DNA sequences involved in nodulation by Rhizobium must include genes responsible for recognizing homologous hosts. We sought these genes by mobilizing the symbiotic plasmid of a broad host-range Rhizobium MPIK3030 (= NGR234) that can nodulate Glycine max, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, Vigna unguiculata, etc., into two Nod- Rhizobium mutants as well as into Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Subsequently, cosmid clones of pMPIK3030a were mobilized into Nod+ Rhizobium that cannot nodulate the chosen hosts. Nodule development was monitored by examining the ultrastructure of nodules formed by the transconjugants. pMPIK3030a could complement Nod- and Nif- deletions in R. leguminosarum and R. meliloti as well as enable A. tumefaciens to nodulate. Three non-overlapping sets of cosmids were found that conferred upon a slow-growing Rhizobium species, as well as on R. loti and R. meliloti, the ability to nodulate Psophocarpus and Vigna, thus pointing to the existence of three sets of host-specificity genes. Recipients harboring these hsn regions had truly broadened host-range since they could nodulate both their original hosts as well as MPIK3030 hosts.

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