Gene centres, a source for genetic variants in symbiotic nitrogen fixation: The symbiotic response of the cultivated pea toRhizobium leguminosarum strains from Europe and the Middle East
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Soil samples from several European countries; Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Greece, contained rhizobial populations capable of forming an effective symbiosis with the cultivated pea cv. Rondo from the Netherlands. The range of variation among the European Rhizobium strains, as expressed on pea cv. Rondo, was not so large and almost the same variation could be found within the rhizobial population within each country. Superior Rhizobium strains for the Dutch pea were not restricted to soils from the Netherlands but were also found in those from Sweden and Italy.
Soils from Turkey and Israel also contained Rhizobium strains capable of nodulating pea cv. Rondo. However, the genetic variation among these Middle East Rhizobium strains was much larger than that of the European strains. When tested on pea cv. Rondo the majority of the Middle East strains belonged to the medium or low effective classes and only a few strains were comparable with European Rhizobium strains.
Dutch Rhizobium strains induced effective nodules on both the Dutch pea cv. Rondo and the Swedish cv. L 110. However, in association with a Turkish Rhizobium strain effective nodules were formed on pea cv. Rondo and ineffective nodules on cv. L 110.
We suggest that the genetic uniformity of EuropeanR. leguminosarum strains is the result of selection and domestication of Rhizobium strains originally derived from the gene centres of the pea plant.
Key wordsCo-evolution Domestication Gene centre Genetic variability Nitrogen fixation Pisum sativum L Rhizobium leguminosarum
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