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Microb Ecol. 2007 Feb;53(2):270-84.

Variability in Bradyrhizobium japonicum and B. elkanii seven years after introduction of both the exotic microsymbiont and the soybean host in a cerrados soil.

Author information

1
Department Microbiology, Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Cx. Postal 60001, 86051-990, Londrina, PR, Brazil.

Abstract

The plasticity of rhizobial genomes is far greater than previously thought, with complex genomic recombination events that may be accelerated by the often stressful environmental conditions of the tropics. This study aimed at evaluating changes in soybean rhizobia due to adaptation to inhospitable environmental conditions (high temperatures, drought, and acid soils) in the Brazilian Cerrados. Both the host plant and combinations of four strains of soybean Bradyrhizobium were introduced in an uncropped soil devoid of rhizobia capable of nodulating soybean. After the third year, seeds were not reinoculated. Two hundred and sixty-three isolates were obtained from nodules of field-grown soybean after the seventh year, and their morphological, physiological, serological, and symbiotic properties determined, followed by genetic analysis of conserved and symbiotic genes. B. japonicum strain CPAC 15 (same serogroup as USDA 123) was characterized as having high saprophytic capacity and competitiveness and by the seventh year represented up to 70% of the cultivable population, in contrast to the poor survival and competitiveness of B. japonicum strain CPAC 7 (same serogroup as CB 1809). In general, adapted strains had increased mucoidy, and up to 43% of the isolates showed no serological reaction. High variability, presumably resulting from the adaptation to the harsh environmental conditions, was verified in rep-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) profiles, being lower in strain CPAC 15, intermediate in B. elkanii, and higher in CPAC 7. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP)-PCR types of the 16S rDNA corresponded to the following: one type for B. elkanii species, two for B. japonicum, associated to CPAC 15 and CPAC 7, and unknown combinations of profiles. However, when nodC sequences and RFLP-PCR of the nifH region data were considered, only two clusters were observed having full congruence with B. japonicum and B. elkanii species. Combining the results, variability was such that even within a genetically more stable group (such as that of CPAC 15), only 6.4% of the isolates showed high similarity to the inoculant strain, whereas none was similar to CPAC 7. The genetic variability in our study seems to result from a variety and combination of events including strain dispersion, genomic recombination, and horizontal gene transfer. Furthermore, the genetic variability appears to be mainly associated with adaptation, saprophytic capacity, and competitiveness, and not with symbiotic effectiveness, as the similarity of symbiotic genes was higher than that of conserved regions of the DNA.

PMID:
17265000
DOI:
10.1007/s00248-006-9149-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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