, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 121-125

Enhanced competitiveness of a Bradyrhizobium japonicum mutant strain improved for nodulation and nitrogen fixation

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Bradyrhizobium japonicum strain TA-11NOD+, with altered indole biosynthesis, exhibited enhanced nodulation and nitrogen fixation on soybean in previous greenhouse studies. In this study, field experiments were conducted at Upper Marlboro, Maryland, in the summers of 1988 and 1993. In 1988, the site used was essentially free of soybean-nodulating bacteria and seed yield in plots inoculated with either I-110ARS or TA-11NOD+ was significantly higher by 12 or 20%, respectively, than that of the uninoculated controls. The 1993 site had an indigenous soil population (about 104 cells g-1) of symbiotically ineffective soybean-nodulating bacteria. Nevertheless, six-week-old ‘Morgan’ soybean plants inoculated with strain TA-11NOD+ had 44% more nodules and exhibited 50% more nitrogen fixation by acetylene reduction when compared with plants that received the parental strain I-110ARS. Nodule occupancy, as determined using genetic markers for rifampicin and streptomycin resistance, was significantly higher for strain TA-11NOD+ than for strain I-110ARS. Overall, for the two years and the two soybean genotypes, the yield obtained with TA-11NOD+ was 6% higher than that obtained with I-110ARS. Competition experiments were conducted in the greenhouse and strain TA-11NOD+ was significantly more competitive than strain I-110ARS in competition with strains USDA 6 or USDA 438.