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Syst Appl Microbiol. 2009 Dec;32(8):558-70. doi: 10.1016/j.syapm.2009.07.008. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Diversity of frankiae in soils from five continents.

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Texas State University, Department of Biology, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA.


Clone libraries of nifH gene fragments specific for the nitrogen-fixing actinomycete Frankia were generated from six soils obtained from five continents using a nested PCR. Comparative sequence analyses of all libraries (n=247 clones) using 96 to 97% similarity thresholds revealed the presence of three and four clusters of frankiae representing the Elaeagnus and the Alnus host infection groups, respectively. Diversity of frankiae was represented by fewer clusters (i.e., up to four in total) within individual libraries, with one cluster generally harboring the vast majority of sequences. Meta-analysis including sequences previously published for cultures (n=48) and for uncultured frankiae in root nodules of Morella pensylvanica formed in bioassays with the respective soils (n=121) revealed a higher overall diversity with four and six clusters of frankiae representing the Elaeagnus and the Alnus host infection groups, respectively, and displayed large differences in cluster assignments between sequences retrieved from clone libraries and those obtained from nodules, with assignments to the same cluster only rarely encountered for individual soils. These results demonstrate large differences between detectable Frankia populations in soil and those in root nodules indicating the inadequacy of bioassays for the analysis of frankiae in soil and the role of plants in the selection of frankiae from soil for root nodule formation.

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