Effects of Medicago truncatula genetic diversity, rhizobial competition, and strain effectiveness on the diversity of a natural sinorhizobium species community

Cécile Rangin, Brigitte Brunel, Jean-Claude Cleyet-Marel, Marie-Mathilde Perrineau, Gilles Béna

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52 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the genetic diversity and symbiotic efficiency of 223 Sinorhizobium sp. isolates sampled from a single Mediterranean soil and trapped with four Medicago truncatula lines. DNA molecular polymorphism was estimated by capillary electrophoresis-single-stranded conformation polymorphism and restriction fragment length polymorphism on five loci (IGS(NOD), typA, virB11, avhB11, and the 16S rRNA gene). More than 90% of the rhizobia isolated belonged to the Sinorhizobium medicae species (others belonged to Sinorhizobium meliloti), with different proportions of the two species among the four M. truncatula lines. The S. meliloti population was more diverse than that of S. medicae, and significant genetic differentiation among bacterial populations was detected. Single inoculations performed in tubes with each bacterial genotype and each plant line showed significant bacterium-plant line interactions for nodulation and N(2) fixation levels. Competition experiments within each species highlighted either strong or weak competition among genotypes within S. medicae and S. meliloti, respectively. Interspecies competition experiments showed S. meliloti to be more competitive than S. medicae for nodulation. Although not highly divergent at a nucleotide level, isolates collected from this single soil sample displayed wide polymorphism for both nodulation and N(2) fixation. Each M. truncatula line might influence Sinorhizobium soil population diversity differently via its symbiotic preferences. Our data suggested that the two species did not evolve similarly, with S. meliloti showing polymorphism and variable selective pressures and S. medicae showing traces of a recent demographic expansion. Strain effectiveness might have played a role in the species and genotype proportions, but in conjunction with strain adaptation to environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5653-61
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Biodiversity
  • DNA, Bacterial/genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • France
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Medicago truncatula/microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nitrogen Fixation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/genetics
  • Sinorhizobium meliloti/classification
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Symbiosis


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