Enzyme electrophoresis and rRNA sequencing indicated that root nodule bacteria from the canopy tree Platypodium elegans and the lianas Machaerium milleflorum and Machaerium arboreum on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, were highly diverse on a local scale. A total of 11 distinct multilocus genotypes [ETs (electrophoretic types)] was found among the 33 isolates analysed. On average, ETs differed from one another at 74% of the 11 enzyme loci assayed, and separate nodules on a single host individual were often occupied by genetically divergent ETs. Certain ETs were sampled multiple times from both Platypodium and Machaerium, suggesting a lack of specificity toward the two legume genera. Within the intervening sequence (IVS) region in the 5' end of 23S rRNA, seven ETs had a length variant similar to that of Bradyrhizobium japonicum USDA 110, and the other four ETs had an IVS region 26-28 bp shorter. Parsimony analysis of both partial 23S rRNA and nearly full-length 16S rRNA sequences indicated that all Platypodium and Machaerium isolates were related to B. japonicum rather than Bradyrhizobium elkanii. The 16S rRNA sequence of one isolate was >99% similar to that of B. japonicum USDA 110, and the closest known relatives for other isolates were Philippine bradyrhizobia from the legumes Stylosanthes and Samanea.


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