Sixteen nitrogen-fixing strains isolated from the rhizosphere of maize planted in Cerrado soil, Brazil, which showed morphological and biochemical characteristics similar to the gas-forming Paenibacillus spp., were phenotypically and genetically characterized. Their identification as members of the genus Paenibacillus was confirmed by using specific primers based on the 16S rRNA gene. SDS-PAGE of whole-cell proteins, API 50CH, morphological and biochemical tests, amplified rDNA-restriction analysis (ARDRA), DNA-relatedness analyses, denaturing-gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and 16S rRNA gene sequence determinations were performed to characterize the novel isolates and to compare them to strains of other nitrogen-fixing Paenibacillus spp. Phenotypic analyses showed that the 16 strains were very homogeneous and shared a high level of relatedness with Paenibacillus polymyxa and Paenibacillus peoriae. However, none of the novel isolates was able to ferment glycerol (positive test for P. polymyxa), L-arabinose or D-xylose (positive tests for P. polymyxa and P. peoriae) or utilize succinate (positive test for P. peoriae). Genetic approaches also indicated a high level of similarity among the novel isolates and P. polymyxa and P. peoriae, but the novel strains clearly could not be assigned to either of these two recognized species. On the basis of the features presented in this study, the 16 novel isolates were considered to represent members of a novel species within the genus Paenibacillus, for which the name Paenibacillus brasilensis is proposed. The type strain is PB1 72(T) (= ATCC BAA-413(T) = DSM 14914(T)).


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