Members ofMicrovirgaandBradyrhizobiumgenera are native endosymbiotic bacteria nodulatingLupinus luteusin Northern Tunisian soils

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The genetic diversity of bacterial populations nodulating Lupinus luteus (yellow lupine) in Northern Tunisia was examined. Phylogenetic analyses of 43 isolates based on recA and gyrB partial sequences grouped them in three clusters, two of which belong to genus Bradyrhizobium (41 isolates) and one, remarkably, to Microvirga (2 isolates), a genus never previously described as microsymbiont of this lupine species. Representatives of the three clusters were analysed in-depth by multilocus sequence analysis of five housekeeping genes (rrs, recA, glnII, gyrB and dnaK). Surprisingly, the Bradyrhizobium cluster with the two isolates LluI4 and LluTb2 may constitute a new species defined by a separate position between Bradyrhizobium manausense and B. denitrificans. A nodC-based phylogeny identified only two groups: one formed by Bradyrhizobium strains included in the symbiovar genistearum and the other by the Microvirga strains. Symbiotic behaviour of representative isolates was tested, and among the seven legumes inoculated only a difference was observed i.e. the Bradyrhizobium strains nodulated Ornithopus compressus unlike the two strains of Microvirga. On the basis of these data, we conclude that L. luteus root nodule symbionts in Northern Tunisia are mostly strains within the B. canariense/B. lupini lineages, and the remaining strains belong to two groups not previously identified as L. luteus endosymbionts: one corresponding to a new clade of Bradyrhizobium and the other to the genus Microvirga.

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