Phylogeographic distribution of rhizobia nodulating common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in Ethiopia

Hailu Gunnabo, Ashenafi; Geurts, Rene; Wolde-Meskel, Endalkachew; Degefu, Tulu; E Giller, Ken; Heerwaarden, Joost van


Rhizobia are soilborne bacteria that form symbiotic relations with legumes and fix atmospheric nitrogen. The nitrogen fixation potential depends on several factors such as the type of host and symbionts and on environmental factors that affect the distribution of rhizobia. We isolated bacteria nodulating common bean in Southern Ethiopia to evaluate their genetic diversity and phylogeography at nucleotide, locus (gene/haplotype) and species levels of genetic hierarchy. Phylogenetically, eight rhizobial genospecies (including previous collections) were determined that had less genetic diversity than found among reference strains. The limited genetic diversity of the Ethiopian collections was due to absence of many of the Rhizobium lineages known to nodulate beans. Rhizobium etli and Rhizobiumphaseoli were predominant strains of bean-nodulating rhizobia in Ethiopia. We found no evidence for a phylogeographic pattern in strain distribution. However, joint analysis of the current and previous collections revealed differences between the two collections at nucleotide level of genetic hierarchy. The differences were due to genospecies Rhizobium aethiopicum that was only isolated in the earlier collection.