SUMMARY: Resistance of strain NZP2037 to the prodelphinidin-rich flavolan (condensed tannin) present in the roots of was associated with the presence of a peptidoglycan-bound flavolan-binding polysaccharide (FBP) in the outer cell membrane of this bacterium. The outer cell membrane of a flavolan-sensitive strain, NZP2213, did not contain this polysaccharide. FBP was extractable in highest concentration from NZP2037 cells during exponential growth of the bacteria. This correlated with exponential-phase cells of NZP2037 showing maximum resistance to flavolan. When added to cultures of NZP2213, FBP afforded a concentration-dependent protection of this strain to the bactericidal effect of the flavolan. ELISA and immunogold labelling of cells using FBP-specific antibodies confirmed the presence of FBP on the outer cell surface of NZP2037 cells and its absence from NZP2213 cells. Co-inoculation of with antibiotic-resistant mutants of NZP2037 and NZP2213 resulted in the formation of N-fixing nodules containing both strains.


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