The phylogenetic relationships among Rhizobium species that nodulate Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) were determined by directly sequencing the amplified 16S ribosomal DNA genes of these organisms. The bean strains formed four separate clusters. One cluster was composed of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii, R. leguminosarum bv. viciae, and R. leguminosarum bv. phaseoli. Two other clusters comprised Rhizobium etli and Rhizobium tropici, and the fourth cluster contained a single bean-nodulating strain. Data for species identification were obtained from DNA-DNA reassociation experiments. The levels of DNA relatedness among strains belonging to the three biovars of R. leguminosarum ranged from 58 to 67%. The levels of DNA relatedness between R. leguminosarum bv. phaseoli and R. etli and R. tropici ranged from 43 to 45% and 13 to 16%, respectively. The levels of DNA relatedness between the strain belonging to the fourth cluster and strains of the other three Rhizobium species that nodulate beans were less than 10%.
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