Evolution of rhizobial symbiosis islands through insertion sequence-mediated deletion and duplication

Haruka Arashida, Haruka Odake, Masayuki Sugawara, Ryota Noda, Kaori Kakizaki, Satoshi Ohkubo, Hisayuki Mitsui, Shusei Sato, Kiwamu Minamisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Symbiosis between organisms influences their evolution via adaptive changes in genome architectures. Immunity of soybean carrying the Rj2 allele is triggered by NopP (type III secretion system [T3SS]-dependent effector), encoded by symbiosis island A (SymA) in B. diazoefficiens USDA122. This immunity was overcome by many mutants with large SymA deletions that encompassed T3SS (rhc) and N2 fixation (nif) genes and were bounded by insertion sequence (IS) copies in direct orientation, indicating homologous recombination between ISs. Similar deletion events were observed in B. diazoefficiens USDA110 and B. japonicum J5. When we cultured a USDA122 strain with a marker gene sacB inserted into the rhc gene cluster, most sucrose-resistant mutants had deletions in nif/rhc gene clusters, similar to the mutants above. Some deletion mutants were unique to the sacB system and showed lower competitive nodulation capability, indicating that IS-mediated deletions occurred during free-living growth and the host plants selected the mutants. Among 63 natural bradyrhizobial isolates, 2 possessed long duplications (261–357 kb) harboring nif/rhc gene clusters between IS copies in direct orientation via homologous recombination. Therefore, the structures of symbiosis islands are in a state of flux via IS-mediated duplications and deletions during rhizobial saprophytic growth, and host plants select mutualistic variants from the resultant pools of rhizobial populations. Our results demonstrate that homologous recombination between direct IS copies provides a natural mechanism generating deletions and duplications on symbiosis islands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-121
Number of pages10
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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