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Overcoming non-selective nodulation of Lessertia by soil-borne rhizobium in the presence of inoculant mesorhizobium

Gerding, M., O’Hara, G.W., Howieson, J.G. and Bräu, L. (2014) Overcoming non-selective nodulation of Lessertia by soil-borne rhizobium in the presence of inoculant mesorhizobium. Plant and Soil, 380 (1-2). pp. 117-132.

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Background and aims: Legumes of the South African genus Lessertia, along with their microsymbionts, were introduced into the Western Australia wheatbelt. They achieved poor establishment followed by weak summer survival. This was caused in part by low levels of nodulation with the inoculant strains, and by ineffective nodulation with naturalized strains -an example of non-selective nodulation. The aims of this work were to assess Lessertia spp. symbiotic promiscuity, to study the effect of increased doses of an effective inoculant strain (WSM3565) with L. herbacea, and to study the competitive ability and symbiotic performance of different Mesorhizobium strains nodulating L. diffusa. Methods: A glasshouse experiment was set up to evaluate the ability of L. diffusa, L. capitata, L. herbacea and L. excisa to nodulate with inoculants under current use in Western Australia. To assess competitive ability two field experiments were set up at Karridale, Western Australia. L. herbacea was inoculated with the strain WSM3565 at different doses and L. diffusa was inoculated with ten different Mesorhizobium strains. Rhizobia were re-isolated from nodules and their identity confirmed through PCR fingerprinting and sequencing of their partial dnaK. Results: There were differences in promiscuity between different Lessertia spp., where L. herbacea proved to be highly promiscuous under controlled conditions. Increasing the inoculation dose of L. herbacea with WSM3565 did not improve establishment and survival of the legume in the field. Although WSM3565 nodule occupancy improved from 28 to 54 % with higher doses of inoculation, none of the treatments increased L. herbacea yield over the inoculated control. The inoculation of L. diffusa with the strains WSM3598, 3636, 3626 and 3565 resulted in greater biomass production than the uninoculated control. These strains were able to outcompete resident rhizobia and to occupy a high (>60 %) proportion of lateral root nodules. The naturalised strains that achieved nodulation were identified as R. leguminosarum. Conclusion: The high numbers of resident rhizobia and their ability to rapidly nodulate Lessertia spp. are likely to be the main reasons for the low nodule occupancy achieved by some effective inoculant strains with L. diffusa and L. herbacea. Strains WSM 3636 and 3598 were very competitive on nodule occupancy and together with WSM 3565, WSM 3612 and WSM3626, effective on nodule formation and plant growth of L. diffusa despite the high numbers of resident soil rhizobia. These strains and L. diffusa have potential to be introduced as exotic legumes species and rhizobia strains to Western Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Rhizobium Studies
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright: © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
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