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Widespread Bradyrhizobium distribution of diverse Type III effectors that trigger legume nodulation in the absence of Nod factor

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Teulet, Albin 
Carcagno, Mélanie 
Pacquit, Valérie 


The establishment of the rhizobium-legume symbiosis is generally based on plant perception of Nod factors (NFs) synthesized by the bacteria. However, some Bradyrhizobium strains can nodulate certain legume species, such as Aeschynomene spp. or Glycine max, independently of NFs, and via two different processes that are distinguished by the necessity or not of a type III secretion system (T3SS). ErnA is the first known type III effector (T3E) triggering nodulation in Aeschynomene indica. In this study, a collection of 196 sequenced Bradyrhizobium strains was tested on A. indica. Only strains belonging to the photosynthetic supergroup can develop a NF-T3SS-independent symbiosis, while the ability to use a T3SS-dependent process is found in multiple supergroups. Of these, 14 strains lacking ernA were tested by mutagenesis to identify new T3Es triggering nodulation. We discovered a novel T3E, Sup3, a putative SUMO-protease without similarity to ErnA. Its mutation in Bradyrhizobium strains NAS96.2 and WSM1744 abolishes nodulation and its introduction in an ernA mutant of strain ORS3257 restores nodulation. Moreover, ectopic expression of sup3 in A. indica roots led to the formation of spontaneous nodules. We also report three other new T3Es, Ubi1, Ubi2 and Ubi3, which each contribute to the nodulation capacity of strain LMTR13. These T3Es have no homology to known proteins but share with ErnA three motifs necessary for ErnA activity. Together, our results highlight an unsuspected distribution and diversity of T3Es within the Bradyrhizobium genus that may contribute to their symbiotic efficiency by participating in triggering legume nodulation.



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The ISME Journal

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Oxford University Press
Agence Nationale de la Recherche (French National Research Agency) (ANR-10-LABX-41, ANR-11-IDEX-0002-02, ANR-18-EURE-0019, ANR-20-CE20-0012)