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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995 Feb;61(2):623-9.

Nonpigmented and Bacteriochlorophyll-Containing Bradyrhizobia Isolated from Aeschynomene indica.


The legume genus Aeschynomene is unusual, since many species develop stem nodules and the bradyrhizobia isolated from these nodules produce bacteriochlorophyll (Bchl). Evidence is presented that the bradyrhizobia of Aeschynomene indica have wide distribution throughout the world, since A. indica was nodulated when grown in 58 soils collected in 14 different countries. Only 38 of 79 isolates tested synthesized Bchl and carotenoids during heterotrophic growth. Nine isolates produced Bchl constitutively, and cultures were pigmented after growth in the dark. The other isolates required light for Bchl production. The DNA from seven pigmented and three nonpigmented bradyrhizobia hybridized with a DNA probe containing the genes for the photosynthetic apparatus of Rhodobacter capsulatus, but DNA from two other nonpigmented isolates did not hybridize with this probe. A relationship between pigmentation in culture and symbiotic phenotype was not evident, since bradyrhizobia of both Bchl phenotypes nodulated stems of A. indica and formed nitrogen-fixing symbioses. Several isolates, which were ineffective on A. indica, probably do belong to the proposed cross-inoculation group 3 (D. Alazard, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 50:732-734, 1985), since they did not nodulate Aeschynomene americana or Macroptilium atropurpureum. Since it has been suggested that extant rhizobia arose from photosynthetic ancestors (J. I. Sprent, p. 45-54, in P. M. Gresshoff, L. E. Roth, G. Stacey, and W. E. Newton, ed., Nitrogen Fixation: Achievements and Objectives, 1990), we propose that the nonpigmented isolates may represent an extant lineage of an intermediate evolutionary stage.

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