Analysis of the legume–rhizobia symbiosis in shrubs from central western Spain


Susana Rodríguez-Echeverría, IMAR, Botany Department, University of Coimbra, Coimbra 3000, Portugal (e-mail:


Aims: This work analyses the diversity of rhizobia associated with some of the predominant shrubby legumes in central-western Spain. Symbiotic promiscuity and effectiveness were studied using cross-inoculation experiments with shrubby species.

Material and Results: Six new bradyrhizobia strains were isolated from nodules collected from wild plants of six leguminous species, Cytisus balansae, C. multiflorus, C. scoparius, C. striatus, Genista hystrix and Retama sphaerocarpa. These isolates were genetically characterized by 16S rDNA partial sequencing and random amplification of polymorphic DNA–PCR fingerprinting. The phylogenetic analysis revealed that these isolates could represent three new Bradyrhizobium species. Shrubby legumes and bradyrhizobia displayed a high symbiotic promiscuity both for infectivity and effectiveness. Symbioses were effective in more than 70% of the associations established by four of the six plant species.

Conclusions: Native woody legumes in western Spain are nodulated by Bradyrhizobium strains. The high degree of symbiotic promiscuity and effectiveness highlights the complex dynamics of these communities in wild ecosystems under a Mediterranean-type climate. Furthermore, the results from this study suggest a potential importance of inoculation for these legume species in soil-restoration projects.

Significance and Impact of the Study: This is the first study, to our knowledge, that combines both molecular analysis and pot trials to study the rhizobia–legume symbiosis for wild legumes.