An isolate of Pseudomonas putida, which rapidly adheres to plant roots, is agglutinated by a glycoprotein from root surfaces. Agglutination is prevented and adherence to the root surface is diminished by Tn5 insertion in mutant 5123. Two cosmid clones from wild type P. putida and a 2.7-kbp EcoRI-HindIII subclone present in both cosmid clones restored agglutinability to wild type levels in transconjugants of the nonagglutinable (Agg-) Tn5 mutant 5123. These three clones increased agglutinability in transconjugants of the parental Agg+ isolate. The 2.7-kbp EcoRI-HindIII subclone restored adherence to bean root surfaces of 5123 to wild type levels in a short-term binding assay. Deletion analysis of the 2.7-kbp fragment indicated only 1.45 kbp was necessary for complementation of agglutinability in 5123. The sequence, termed the aggA locus, contains an open reading frame of 1,356 nucleotides encoding a predicted 50,509-Da protein. The distribution of the aggA locus in plant-associated bacteria, as detected through Southern hybridization, is limited to bacteria that express the agglutination phenotype.