Rhizobia: from saprophytes to endosymbionts.
Poole P., Ramachandran V., Terpolilli J.
Rhizobia are some of the best-studied plant microbiota. These oligotrophic Alphaproteobacteria or Betaproteobacteria form symbioses with their legume hosts. Rhizobia must exist in soil and compete with other members of the microbiota before infecting legumes and forming N2-fixing bacteroids. These dramatic lifestyle and developmental changes are underpinned by large genomes and even more complex pan-genomes, which encompass the whole population and are subject to rapid genetic exchange. The ability to respond to plant signals and chemoattractants and to colonize nutrient-rich roots are crucial for the competitive success of these bacteria. The availability of a large body of genomic, physiological, biochemical and ecological studies makes rhizobia unique models for investigating community interactions and plant colonization.