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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Competition between effective and ineffective strains of Rhizobium trifolii in the nodulation of Trifolium subterraneum

AC Robinson

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 20(5) 827 - 841
Published: 1969

Abstract

The competitive ability of effective and ineffective strains of Rhizobium trifolii to form nodules on two cultivars of Trifolium subterraneum was examined under bacteriologically controlled conditions in tube culture. Seedlings were inoculated with mixtures of known numbers each of effective and of ineffective strains and the strains forming the nodules subsequently determined. In all instances, the effective strains formed a much greater proportion of nodules than would be expected from the relative numbers of each strain in the inoculum. Moreover, a reduction in the numbers of an effective strain relative to the numbers of an ineffective strain failed to result in a corresponding increase in the proportion of nodules formed by an ineffective strain. Instead, the ratio of ineffective to effective strains had to be of the order of 108/104 or wider (c. 10,000/1) before there was a substantial reduction in the number of nodules formed by the effective strains. Even when this ratio was of the order of 108/102, the effective strains still produced some of the nodules.

A parallel study of the rates of nodulation of seedlings inoculated with mixtures of strains showed that these rates were characteristic of the proportions of nodules being formed by each strain. Subsequently seedlings were inoculated with mixtures of effective and ineffective strains, and after 66, 90, and 114 hr the roots were surface-sterilized and their contents isolated and identified. Independently of the mixture of strains used, most of the bacterial cells were identified as the effective strains.

Because the strains of effective and ineffective bacteria used produce nodules freely when inoculated separately onto these hosts, it is postulated that the hosts distinguished between effective and ineffective strains, and that this recognition is related to compatibility in association with the host. The significance of the results in relation to studies of the root-nodule bacteria is discussed.

https://doi.org/10.1071/AR9690827

© CSIRO 1969


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