From sequence divergence of 16S rRNA genes and the internally transcribed spacer (ITS) region it is reported that variation in phylogenetic placement exists among the 17 different serotype strains of Bradyrhizobium that have been isolated from nodules of soybean. Evolutionary relationships among the bradyrhizobia were more resolved using reconstructions derived from ITS than from 16S rRNA gene sequence divergence. Strain USDA 129 was placed together with USDA 62, 110, 122 and 126, but did not cluster with USDA 123 and 127, with which it shares antigenic determinants. The results from the phylogenetic analysis were supported with data from determinations of genetic diversity among additional strains within each of these serogroups using amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis. From these results it was concluded that strains of serogroup 129 were more similar to strains of serogroups 62, 110 and 122 than they were to strains of serogroups 123 and 127. The serotype strain of Bradyrhizobiumjaponicum USDA 135 and the type strain for Bradyrhizobium liaoningense possessed identical 16S rRNA gene and ITS region sequences. Also, the type strain for B. liaoningense cross-reacted with antisera prepared against somatic antigens of USDA 135. Therefore, it was not possible to distinguish B. liaoningense from serogroup 135 in our analysis of B. japonicum and Bradyrhizobium elkanii.


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