The Composite Genome of the Legume Symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti
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The scarcity of usable nitrogen frequently limits plant growth. A tight metabolic association with rhizobial bacteria allows legumes to obtain nitrogen compounds by bacterial reduction of dinitrogen (N2) to ammonium (NH4+). We present here the annotated DNA sequence of the alpha-proteobacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti, the symbiont of alfalfa. The tripartite 6.7-megabase (Mb) genome comprises a 3.65-Mb chromosome, and 1.35-Mb pSymA and 1.68-Mb pSymB megaplasmids. Genome sequence analysis indicates that all three elements contribute, in varying degrees, to symbiosis and reveals how this genome may have emerged during evolution. The genome sequence will be useful in understanding the dynamics of interkingdom associations and of life in soil environments.
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