Genetic diversity and distribution of indigenous soybean-nodulating bradyrhizobia in Japan were investigated based on restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of PCR product (PCR-RFLP) analysis of the 16S-23S rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region using Bradyrhizobium USDA strains as reference strains. Soil samples were collected from five field sites in Hokkaido, Fukushima, Kyoto, Miyazaki and Okinawa in Japan. A total of 300 isolates were derived from three Rj-genotype soybean cultivars, Akishirome (non-Rj), CNS (Rj2R3) and Fukuyutaka (Rj4), and five field site combinations. The PCR products of the ITS region were digested with HaeIII, HhaI, MspI and XspI. Electrophoresed patterns were analyzed for phylogenetic relationship using Bradyrhizobium reference strains. Results revealed 22 RFLP patterns and 11 clusters. The RFLP patterns of the seven clusters were similar or identical to Bradyrhizobium japonicum USDA 6, 38, 110, 115, 123 and Bradyrhizobium elkanii USDA 76 and 94. Four minor clusters were independent from the clusters of the reference strains. The isolation ratio revealed the major clusters at each field site. These results suggested that major clusters of indigenous bradyrhizobia might be in the order Bj123, Bj38, Bj110, Bj6 and Be76 from the northern to southern regions in Japan.
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