, Volume 181, Issue 5, pp 337-344
Date: 13 Mar 2004

Rhizobium etli maize populations and their competitiveness for root colonization

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Rhizobium etli, which normally forms nitrogen-fixing nodules on Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean), is a natural maize endophyte. The genetic diversity of R. etli strains from bulk soil, bean nodules, the maize rhizosphere, the maize root, and inside stem tissue in traditional fields where maize is intercropped with P. vulgaris-beans was analyzed. Based on plasmid profiles and alloenzymes, it was determined that several R. etli types were preferentially encountered as putative maize endophytes. Some of these strains from maize were more competitive maize-root colonizers than other R. etli strains from the rhizosphere or from bean nodules. The dominant and highly competitive strain Ch24-10 was the most tolerant to 6-methoxy-2-benzoxazolinone (MBOA), a maize antimicrobial compound that is inhibitory to some bacteria and fungi. The R. tropici strain CIAT899, successfully used as inoculant of P. vulgaris, was also found to be a competitive maize endophyte in inoculation experiments.