Plant and Soil

, Volume 410, Issue 1–2, pp 21–40 | Cite as

Molecular characterization of nitrogen fixing microsymbionts from root nodules of Vachellia (Acacia) jacquemontii, a native legume from the Thar Desert of India

  • Indu Singh Sankhla
  • Nisha Tak
  • Raju Ram Meghwal
  • Sunil Choudhary
  • Alkesh Tak
  • Sonam Rathi
  • Janet I. Sprent
  • Euan K. JamesEmail author
  • Hukam Singh GehlotEmail author
Regular Article



To describe the structure of nodules of Vachellia (Acacia) jacquemontii, and to characterise the rhizobia that occupy them.


Light and electron microscopy were used to analyse nodules. Rhizobia were characterised using their 16S rRNA, housekeeping and symbiosis-related gene sequences.


Nodules of V. jacquemontii were typical of all other described mimosoid legumes. All 73 of the isolates were strains of Ensifer, and concatenated phylogenetic analysis of their housekeeping genes (rrs, recA, atpD, glnII and dnaK) suggested that they are novel, forming separate lineages close to E. saheli. The phylogenies of the symbiosis-essential genes nodA and nifH were inconsistent with the housekeeping phylogenies. The nodA sequences of most isolates were close to that of E. arboris HAMBI 1552T, but the nifH gene was found to be related to that of E. kostiensis HAMBI 1489T. All the tested Ensifer strains, except for AJ24, were found to be capable of nodulating other species of Vachellia as well as native Indian Mimosa and Prosopis spp.


Stressful conditions caused by the alkaline soil of the Thar Desert have resulted in V. jacquemontii being nodulated by diverse and promiscuous Ensifer species that are capable of nodulating other native members of the tribe Mimoseae.


Vachellia (Acacia) jacquemontii Thar Desert Ensifer rhizobia nifH nodA Multi Locus Sequence Analysis (MLSA) 



Indu S. Sankhla thanks the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, for a junior and senior research fellowship. The work is also supported by grants from the Department of Biotechnology Govt. of India (BT/PR11461/AGR/21/270/2008) and the University Grants Commission (UGC-SAPII-CAS-I, UGC-BSR Start-Up-Grant F.30-16/2014). The Department of Meteorological and Soil Science, Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur is acknowledged for help in providing data.

Supplementary material

11104_2016_2838_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (423 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 422 kb)
11104_2016_2838_MOESM2_ESM.xls (40 kb)
ESM 2 (XLS 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Indu Singh Sankhla
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nisha Tak
    • 1
  • Raju Ram Meghwal
    • 1
  • Sunil Choudhary
    • 1
  • Alkesh Tak
    • 1
  • Sonam Rathi
    • 1
  • Janet I. Sprent
    • 3
  • Euan K. James
    • 4
    Email author
  • Hukam Singh Gehlot
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.BNF and Stress Biology Laboratory, Department of BotanyJai Narain Vyas UniversityJodhpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversity of RajasthanJaipurIndia
  3. 3.University of Dundee at the James Hutton InstituteDundeeUK
  4. 4.The James Hutton InstituteDundeeUK

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