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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Jul;62(7):2279-85.

Genetic diversity of an Italian Rhizobium meliloti population from different Medicago sativa varieties.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Universit√° degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy.


We investigated the genetic diversity of 96 Rhizobium meliloti strains isolated from nodules of four Medicago sativa varieties from distinct geographic areas and planted in two different northern Italian soils. The 96 isolates, which were phenotypically indistinguishable, were analyzed for DNA polymorphism with the following three methods: (i) a randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) method, (ii) a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of the 16S-23S ribosomal operon spacer region, and (iii) an RFLP analysis of a 25-kb region of the pSym plasmid containing nod genes. Although the bacteria which were studied constituted a unique genetic population, a considerable level of genetic diversity was found. The new analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) method was used to estimate the variance among the RAPD patterns. The results indicated that there was significant genetic diversity among strains nodulating different varieties. The AMOVA method was confirmed to be a useful tool for investigating the genetic variation in an intraspecific population. Moreover, the data obtained with the two RFLP methods were consistent with the RAPD results. The genetic diversity of the population was found to reside on the whole bacterial genome, as suggested by the RAPD analysis results, and seemed to be distributed on both the chromosome and plasmid pSym.

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