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author:("giunti, Elisa")
1.  Population genomics of Sinorhizobium medicae based on low-coverage sequencing of sympatric isolates 
The ISME Journal  2011;5(11):1722-1734.
We investigated the genomic diversity of a local population of the symbiotic bacterium Sinorhizobium medicae, isolated from the roots of wild Medicago lupulina plants, in order to assess genomic diversity, to identify genomic regions influenced by duplication, deletion or strong selection, and to explore the composition of the pan-genome. Partial genome sequences of 12 isolates were obtained by Roche 454 shotgun sequencing (average 5.3 Mb per isolate) and compared with the published sequence of S. medicae WSM 419. Homologous recombination appears to have less impact on the polymorphism patterns of the chromosome than on the chromid pSMED01 and megaplasmid pSMED02. Moreover, pSMED02 is a hot spot of insertions and deletions. The whole chromosome is characterized by low sequence polymorphism, consistent with the high density of housekeeping genes. Similarly, the level of polymorphism of symbiosis genes (low) and of genes involved in polysaccharide synthesis (high) may reflect different selection. Finally, some isolates carry genes that may confer adaptations that S. medicae WSM 419 lacks, including homologues of genes encoding rhizobitoxine synthesis, iron uptake, response to autoinducer-2, and synthesis of distinct polysaccharides. The presence or absence of these genes was confirmed by PCR in each of these 12 isolates and a further 27 isolates from the same population. All isolates had rhizobitoxine genes, while the other genes were co-distributed, suggesting that they may be on the same mobile element. These results are discussed in relation to the ecology of Medicago symbionts and in the perspective of population genomics studies.
doi:10.1038/ismej.2011.55
PMCID: PMC3197167  PMID: 21562597
population genomics; genome evolution; horizontal gene pool; population structure; Sinorhizobium medicae
2.  Metabolic Capacity of Sinorhizobium (Ensifer) meliloti Strains as Determined by Phenotype MicroArray Analysis▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(16):5396-5404.
Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil bacterium that fixes atmospheric nitrogen in plant roots. The high genetic diversity of its natural populations has been the subject of extensive analysis. Recent genomic studies of several isolates revealed a high content of variable genes, suggesting a correspondingly large phenotypic differentiation among strains of S. meliloti. Here, using the Phenotype MicroArray (PM) system, hundreds of different growth conditions were tested in order to compare the metabolic capabilities of the laboratory reference strain Rm1021 with those of four natural S. meliloti isolates previously analyzed by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). The results of PM analysis showed that most phenotypic differences involved carbon source utilization and tolerance to osmolytes and pH, while fewer differences were scored for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur source utilization. Only the variability of the tested strain in tolerance to sodium nitrite and ammonium sulfate of pH 8 was hypothesized to be associated with the genetic polymorphisms detected by CGH analysis. Colony and cell morphologies and the ability to nodulate Medicago truncatula plants were also compared, revealing further phenotypic diversity. Overall, our results suggest that the study of functional (phenotypic) variability of S. meliloti populations is an important and complementary step in the investigation of genetic polymorphism of rhizobia and may help to elucidate rhizobial evolutionary dynamics, including adaptation to diverse environments.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00196-09
PMCID: PMC2725449  PMID: 19561177
3.  Large-scale genetic variation of the symbiosis-required megaplasmid pSymA revealed by comparative genomic analysis of Sinorhizobium meliloti natural strains 
BMC Genomics  2005;6:158.
Background
Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil bacterium that forms nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots of leguminous plants such as alfalfa (Medicago sativa). This species occupies different ecological niches, being present as a free-living soil bacterium and as a symbiont of plant root nodules. The genome of the type strain Rm 1021 contains one chromosome and two megaplasmids for a total genome size of 6 Mb. We applied comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) on an oligonucleotide microarrays to estimate genetic variation at the genomic level in four natural strains, two isolated from Italian agricultural soil and two from desert soil in the Aral Sea region.
Results
From 4.6 to 5.7 percent of the genes showed a pattern of hybridisation concordant with deletion, nucleotide divergence or ORF duplication when compared to the type strain Rm 1021. A large number of these polymorphisms were confirmed by sequencing and Southern blot. A statistically significant fraction of these variable genes was found on the pSymA megaplasmid and grouped in clusters. These variable genes were found to be mainly transposases or genes with unknown function.
Conclusion
The obtained results allow to conclude that the symbiosis-required megaplasmid pSymA can be considered the major hot-spot for intra-specific differentiation in S. meliloti.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-6-158
PMCID: PMC1298293  PMID: 16283928

Results 1-3 (3)