A total of 80 bacterial strains isolated from different and species growing in various sites in Senegal (West Africa) were compared with 35 reference strains of , and species and with 33 representative strains of the different groups of Brazilian isolates described on the basis of the results of a numerical analysis of the whole-cell protein patterns obtained by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Fifty-two strains could be placed in three protein electrophoretic clusters, two of which were different from the clusters containing various reference or representative strains, while 30 other strains could not be placed in any group. The strains belonging to the three clusters were studied by determining their nodulation host ranges and their morphological, physiological, and auxanographic characteristics. Representative strains of the three clusters were also genotypically characterized by determining their DNA base compositions, by performing DNA-DNA and DNA-rRNA hybridization experiments, and by determining their 16S rRNA gene sequences. Our results showed that two of the clusters identified on the basis of SDS-PAGE data are genotypically and phenotypically distinct groups that belong on the rRNA branch. The third cluster is localized on the rRNA branch in the vicinity of and contains strains isolated in Africa, in Brazil, and in New Zealand from different leguminous species. On the basis of the results of the present study, we propose to emend the genus and to reclassify as comb. nov. In addition, two new species, and , are proposed for isolates from Senegal.


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