Direct selection for curing and deletion of Rhizobium plasmids using transposons carrying the Bacillus subtilis sacB gene.

Gene 78(1):111 (1989) PMID 2548927

We have constructed derivatives of the transposon Tn5 carrying the mob site (oriT) of plasmid RP4, and an nptI-sacB-sacR cassette [Ried and Collmer, Gene 57 (1987) 239-246]. The mob site, in conjunction with the antibiotic-resistance markers carried on the transposons, allows identification of transposon inserts in cryptic plasmids by mobilisation to other strains. The sacB-sacR genes allow direct selection for the loss or curing of plasmids, because only strains which no longer contain an active sacB gene are able to grow on media containing sucrose. We have tested these transposons in four strains of Rhizobium leguminosarum and two strains of Rhizobium meliloti, and have been able to demonstrate curing of several large cryptic plasmids, and generation of large deletions in many other plasmids. This method has enabled us to show that the R. leguminosarum plasmids pRL12JI and pR1eVF39f carry auxotrophic markers, and that the plasmid pR1eVF39c carries genes which affect colony morphology.