A total of 99 bacterial isolates that originated from root nodules of Glycine soja were characterized with restriction analyses of amplified 16S ribosomal DNA and 16S–23S rDNA intergenic spacers (ITS), and sequence analyses of 16S rRNA, rpoB, atpD, recA and nodC genes. When tested for nodulation of G. soja, 72 of the isolates were effective symbionts, and these belonged to five species: Bradyrhizobium japonicum, Bradyrhizobium elkanii, Bradyrhizobium yuanmingense, Bradyrhizobium liaoningense and Sinorhizobium fredii. All of these, except some B. yuanmingense strains, also formed effective nodules on the domesticated soybean Glycine max. The remaining 27 isolates did not nodulate either host, but were identified as Rhizobium. Phylogeny nodC in the G. soja symbionts suggested that this symbiosis gene was mainly maintained by vertical gene transfer. Different nodC sublineages and rrs-ITS clusters reflected the geographic origins of isolates in this study.