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Can J Microbiol. 2007 Aug;53(8):957-67.

Increased metabolic potential of Rhizobium spp. is associated with bacterial competitiveness.

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Department of General Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of M. Curie-Skłodowska, Akademicka 19, 20-033 Lublin, Poland.


Of 105 rhizobial isolates obtained from nodules of commonly cultivated legumes, we selected 19 strains on the basis of a high rate of symbiotic plant growth promotion. Individual strains within the species Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii, R. leguminosarum bv. viciae, and Rhizobium etli displayed variation not only in plasmid sizes and numbers but also in the chromosomal 16S-23S internal transcribed spacer. The strains were tagged with gusA gene and their competitiveness was examined in relation to an indigenous population of rhizobia under greenhouse conditions. A group of 9 strains was thus isolated that were competitive in relation to native rhizobia in pot experiments. Nineteen selected competitive and uncompetitive strains were examined with respect to their ability to utilize various carbon and energy sources by means of commercial Biolog GN2 microplate test. The ability of the selected strains to metabolize a wide range of nutrients differed markedly and the competitive strains were able to utilize more carbon and energy sources than uncompetitive ones. A major difference concerned the utilization of amino and organic acids, which were metabolized by most of the competitive and only a few uncompetitive strains, whereas sugars and their derivatives were commonly utilized by both groups of strains. A statistically significant correlation between the ability to metabolize a broad range of substrates and nodulation competitiveness was found, indicating that metabolic properties may be an essential trait in determining the competitiveness of rhizobia.

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