The molecular analysis of the genetic systems controlling the main stages of nodule bacteria (rhizobia) interaction with a legume host (signaling at early stages and symbiotic nitrogen fixation) has shown that the widespread recombination of genetic material in free-living ancestors of rhizobia was an important factor in the evolution of these systems. These recombinations could be conditioned by a high content of repeated DNA sequences and the IS elements in the rhizobial genome. A high recombination activity of rhizobia is manifested in the panmictic structure of their populations, which is associated with frequency-dependent selection favoring rare recombinants. This selection is realized through the competition of virulent strains for the nodule formation and can be controlled by the genes whose expression depends on population density (via the quorum sensing mechanism). A high degree of panmixia in rhizobial populations is associated with their ecotypic polymorphism, manifested as the coexistence of symbiotic and nonsymbiotic strains. This type of polymorphism is caused by individual selection during the periodic changes of ecological niches (soil–plant host) in the rhizobia life cycle. The rhizobia–plant interaction stimulates selection in bacterial populations, which results in the increased levels of their heterogeneity and panmixia. The combination of individual and frequency-dependent selection types resulted in the high rates of symbiosis evolution and polyphyletic origin of diverse rhizobial species.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 8, 2004
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