Seventeen strains of extra-slowly growing (ESG) soybean rhizobia isolated from root nodules of and growing in five provinces (Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Shanxi, Hubei, and Anhui) in the People's Republic of China were compared with 48 reference strains belonging to the genera , and by performing a numerical analysis of 191 phenotypic features. Our results showed that all of the ESG strains examined clustered closely in the genus but were separated from at the species level and that they could be differentiated from and species at the genus level. On the basis of the results of our numerical taxonomy analysis, a genomic DNA G+C content analysis, DNA-DNA hybridization experiments, a partial 16S rRNA sequence analysis, a serological analysis, an N and C content analysis, and an N/C ratio analysis of members of the three groups of soybean rhizobia, we propose the name sp. nov. for the ESG strains; the type strain of this species is strain 2281.


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