Plant and Soil

, Volume 370, Issue 1–2, pp 235–249 | Cite as

Establishment and survival of the South African legume Lessertia spp. and rhizobia in Western Australian agricultural systems

  • Macarena GerdingEmail author
  • John Gregory Howieson
  • Graham William O’Hara
  • Daniel Real
  • Lambert Bräu
Regular Article


Background and aims

The South African herbaceous legume species Lessertia capitata, L. diffusa, L. excisa L. incana and L. herbacea were introduced to Australia to assess plant establishment and survival, as well as the saprophytic ability of their root nodule bacteria (RNB).


Five Lessertia spp., were inoculated with selected RNB strains and were sown in five different agroclimatic areas of the Western Australian wheat-belt during 2007 and 2008. Plant population and summer survival were evaluated in situ. Soil samples and nodules from host plants were also taken from each site. The re-isolated rhizobia were RPO1-PCR fingerprinted and their partial dnaK and nodA genes were sequenced to confirm their identity.


Plants achieved only poor establishment followed by weak summer survival. More than 83 % of the rhizobia re-isolated from Lessertia did not correlate with the original inoculants’ fingerprints, and were identified as Rhizobium leguminosarum. The nodA sequences of the naturalised strains were also clustered with R. leguminosarum sequences, thus eliminating the likelihood of lateral gene transference from Mesorhizobium and suggesting a competition problem with indigenous rhizobia.


The stressful soil conditions and high numbers of resident R. leguminosarum strains in Western Australian soils, and their ability to rapidly nodulate Lessertia spp. but not fix nitrogen are likely to preclude the adoption of Lessertia as an agricultural legume in this region.


Mesorhizobium Lessertia spp. Nodulation Selection Symbiotic nitrogen fixation 



Western soil microbiology


Optical density

½ LA

Half Lupin Agar



The authors would like to thank Mrs. Regina Carr (Centre for Rhizobium studies, Murdoch University) for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Macarena Gerding
    • 1
    Email author
  • John Gregory Howieson
    • 2
  • Graham William O’Hara
    • 2
  • Daniel Real
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Lambert Bräu
    • 6
  1. 1.Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de ConcepciónChillánChile
  2. 2.Centre for Rhizobium StudiesMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Agriculture and Food Western AustraliaSouth PerthAustralia
  4. 4.Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research CentreThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  5. 5.School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  6. 6.School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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