Stress tolerance, genetic analysis and symbiotic properties of root-nodulating bacteria isolated from Mediterranean leguminous shrubs in Central Spain

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Nine root-nodulating bacterial isolates were obtained from the leguminous shrubs Spartium junceum, Adenocarpus hispanicus, Cytisus purgans, Cytisuslaburnuum, Retama sphaerocarpa and Colutea arborescens in areas of Central Spain. A poliphasic approach analyzing phenotypic, symbiotic and genetic properties was used to study their diversity and characterize them in relation to Mediterranean conditions. Stress tolerance assays revealed marked variations in salinity, extreme pH and cadmium tolerance compared with reference strains, with the majority showing salinity, alkalinity and Cd tolerance and three of them growing at acid pH. Variation within the 16S rRNA gene was examined by amplified 16S rDNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) and direct sequencing to show genetic diversity. Phylogeny confirmed the close relationship of four isolates with Bradyrhizobium canariense, three with Phylobacterium myrsinacearum, one with Rhizobium rhizogenes and another with Mesorhizobium huakuii. The cross inoculation tests revealed wide spectra of nodulation. This is the first report of P. myrsinacearum being able to nodulate these leguminous shrubs, and also the first time reported the association between B.canariense, R. rhizogenes and M. huakuii and C. laburnuum, C. purgans and C. arborescens, respectively. These results suggested that native rhizobia could be suitable candidates as biofertilizers and/or inoculants of leguminous shrubs with restoration or revegetation purposes in Mediterranean areas.

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