A putative 3‐hydroxyisobutyryl‐CoA hydrolase is required for efficient symbiotic nitrogen fixation in
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We report that the smb20752 gene of the alfalfa symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti is a novel symbiotic gene required for full N2 -fixation. Deletion of smb20752 resulted in lower nitrogenase activity and smaller nodules without impacting overall nodule morphology. Orthologs of smb20752 were present in all alpha and beta rhizobia, including the ngr_b20860 gene of Sinorhizobium fredii NGR234. A ngr_b20860 mutant formed Fix- determinate nodules that developed normally to a late stage of the symbiosis on the host plants Macroptilium atropurpureum and Vigna unguiculata. However an early symbiotic defect was evident during symbiosis with Leucaena leucocephala, producing Fix- indeterminate nodules. The smb20752 and ngr_b20860 genes encode putative 3-hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA (HIB-CoA) hydrolases. HIB-CoA hydrolases are required for l-valine catabolism and appear to prevent the accumulation of toxic metabolic intermediates, particularly methacrylyl-CoA. Evidence presented here and elsewhere (Curson et al., , PLoS ONE 9:e97660) demonstrated that Smb20752 and NGR_b20860 can also prevent metabolic toxicity, are required for l-valine metabolism, and play an undefined role in 3-hydroxybutyrate catabolism. We present evidence that the symbiotic defect of the HIB-CoA hydrolase mutants is independent of the inability to catabolize l-valine and suggest it relates to the toxicity resulting from metabolism of other compounds possibly related to 3-hydroxybutyric acid.
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