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Syst Appl Microbiol. 2011 Jun;34(4):285-92. doi: 10.1016/j.syapm.2010.11.021. Epub 2011 Apr 16.

Phylogenetic diversity of indigenous cowpea bradyrhizobia from soils in Japan based on sequence analysis of the 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region.

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Laboratory of Plant Nutrition, Division of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences, Graduate School, Kyushu University, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka, Japan.


Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] is an important legume crop and yet its rhizobia have not been well characterized in many areas. In the present study, sequence analysis of the bacterial 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region was performed to characterize genetically 76 indigenous cowpea rhizobia from five different geographic regions (Okinawa, Miyazaki, Kyoto, Fukushima and Hokkaido) of Japan. The sequence analysis clustered all isolates in the genus Bradyrhizobium. They were conspecific with B. japonicum, B. yuanmingense, B. elkanii and Bradyrhizobium sp., although none of them grouped with B. liaoningense, B. canariense, B. betae or B. iriomotense. B. yuanmingense was only isolated from the southern region (Okinawa) where it achieved the highest frequency of 69%. B. japonicum was predominant at Miyazaki, Fukushima and Hokkaido with more than 60% of the isolates. B. elkanii was mainly recorded in the southern (Okinawa: 31%, Miyazaki: 33%) and middle (Kyoto: 33%) regions. This species was present at a very low frequency in Fukushima and absent in Hokkaido in the northern area. Bradyrhizobium sp. like-strains were absent in the southern part (Okinawa, Miyazaki) but were concentrated either in the middle regions with 67% of Kyoto isolates and 28% of Fukushima isolates, and in the northern region with 40% of the Hokkaido isolates. This study revealed a geographical distribution of cowpea bradyrhizobia which seemed to be related to the differences in the environmental characteristics (soil type and soil pH, temperature, climate, moisture) of the different regions in Japan.

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