• coralloid root;
  • cycad;
  • Cycas revoluta ;
  • DGGE ;
  • genetic diversity;
  • Nostoc


The diversity of cyanobacterial species within the coralloid roots of an individual and populations of Cycas revoluta was investigated based on 16S rRNA gene sequences. Sixty-six coralloid roots were collected from nine natural populations of cycads on Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands, covering the entire distribution range of the species. Approximately 400 bp of the 5′-end of 16S rRNA genes was amplified, and each was identified by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Most coralloid roots harbored only one cyanobiont, Nostoc, whereas some contained two or three, representing cyanobiont diversity within a single coralloid root isolated from a natural habitat. Genotypes of Nostoc within a natural population were occasionally highly diverged and lacked DNA sequence similarity, implying genetic divergence of Nostoc. On the other hand, Nostoc genotypes showed no phylogeographic structure across the distribution range, while host cycads exhibited distinct north–south differentiation. Cycads may exist in symbiosis with either single or multiple Nostoc strains in natural soil habitats.