2020 Volume 35 Issue 1
In central Europe, soybean cultivation is gaining increasing importance to reduce protein imports from overseas and make cropping systems more sustainable. In the field, despite the inoculation of soybean with commercial rhizobia, its nodulation is low. In many parts of Europe, limited information is currently available on the genetic diversity of rhizobia and, thus, biological resources for selecting high nitrogen-fixing rhizobia are inadequate. These resources are urgently needed to improve soybean production in central Europe. The objective of the present study was to identify strains that have the potential to increase nitrogen fixation by and the yield of soybean in German soils. We isolated and characterized 77 soybean rhizobia from 18 different sampling sites. Based on a multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA), 71% of isolates were identified as Bradyrhizobium and 29% as Rhizobium. A comparative analysis of the nodD and nifH genes showed no significant differences, which indicated that the soybean rhizobia symbiotic genes in the present study belong to only one type. One isolate, GMF14 which was tolerant of a low temperature (4°C), exhibited higher nitrogen fixation in root nodules and a greater plant biomass than USDA 110 under cold conditions. These results strongly suggest that some indigenous rhizobia enhance biological nitrogen fixation and soybean yield due to their adaption to local conditions.