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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1989 Jun;55(6):1599-604.

Competition among Strains of Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar trifolii and Use of a Diallel Analysis in Assessing Competition.

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  • 1Department of Crop Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Competition between indigenous Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar trifolii strains and inoculant strains or between mixtures of inoculant strains was assessed in field and growth-room studies. Strain effectiveness under competition was compared with strain performance in the absence of competition. Field inoculation trials were conducted at Elora, Ontario, Canada, with soil containing indigenous R. leguminosarum biovar trifolii. The indirect fluorescent-antibody technique was used for the identification of nodule occupants. Treatments consisted of 10 pure strains, a commercial peat inoculant containing a mixture of strains, and an uninoculated control. Inoculant strains occupied 17.5 to 85% of nodules and resulted in increased dry weight and nitrogen content, as compared with the uninoculated control. None of the strains was capable of completely overcoming resident rhizobia, which occupied, on average, 50% of the total nodules tested. In growth-room studies single commercial strains were mixed in all possible two-way combinations and assessed in a diallel mating design. Significant differences in plant dry weight of red clover were observed among strain combinations. Specific combining ability effects were significant at the 10% level, suggesting that the effectiveness of strain mixtures depended on the specific strain combinations. Strains possessing superior effectiveness and competitive abilities were identified by field and growth-room studies. No relationship was detected between strain effectiveness and competitive ability or between strain recovery and host cultivar. The concentration of indigenous populations was not considered to be a limiting factor in the recovery of introduced strains at this site.

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