Symbiotic characteristics of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii recovered from nodules of field-grown Trifolium subterraneum L. Public Deposited

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  • In a series of greenhouse experiments, isolates representing serotypically distinct subpopulations of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii recovered from root nodules of field-grown subclover Trifolium subterraneum cv. "Nangeela"), were evaluated for their symbiotic effectiveness potential, their effect on regrowth potential of subclover, and for their competitive abilities to form nodules. Isolates from the nodule dominant serotypes AS6, AS6-21, and AS21 were shown to be suboptimally effective at fixing nitrogen gas (N₂) relative to RT162X95, a highly effective commercial inoculant strain. Although the majority of isolates representing the minor nodule occupying serotypes AS27, AG4, and AP17 were also shown to be of moderate effectiveness, isolates ADS14 and RW11 of serotype AS27 were equally as effective as RT162X95. Subclover regrowth was influenced by the severity of the first harvest. Plant-isolate combinations possessing superior N₂-fixing capabilities were more adversely affected by severe clipping than were the less effective combinations. Isolate 88FL3,5, a mediocre N₂-fixing member of the nodule dominant serotype AS6, was not universally more competitive at forming nodules than other isolates. Although 88FL3,5 formed more nodules than many of the other isolates when mixed in equal numbers with each of them separately, isolates ADS14 and ADS16 significantly outcompeted 88FL3,5 even though they represented a minor nodule occupying serotype, AS27. The nodule occupying successes of 88FL3,5 or ADS16 could be overcome if their respective competitor had a numerical advantage ranging between 10:1 and 25:1. Since the soil-borne population of 88FL3,5 has been shown to outnumber other subpopulations of rhizobia in the same soil by at least 10:1, it is not surprising that it can occupy the majority of nodules on field-grown plants even in the presence of more competitive types. Why the highly effective and highly competitive members of serotype AS27 are rarely recovered from nodules of field-grown Trifolium subterraneum L. is a question that merits further study.
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