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Assessing root nodule microsymbionts in healthy and declined rooibos (Aspalathus linearis burm f.) at a plantation in South Africa

Hassen, Ahmed Idris, Habig, Johannes H., Lamprecht, Sandra C.
Journal of plant interactions 2018 v.13 no.1 pp. 277-279
Aspalathus linearis, Burkholderia, Pseudomonas, Rhizobium, bacteria, color, endophytes, microsymbionts, nitrogen fixation, organic matter, ribosomal RNA, root nodules, sandy soils, sequence analysis, South Africa
Aspalathus linearis (burm f.), commonly known as rooibos, grows in nutrient and organic matter poor sandy soils that limit its growth. In this study, samples of nodules from both declined and healthy rooibos plants were collected to determine the frequency of nodule nitrogen-fixing and endophytic bacteria. Standard microbiological procedures as well as sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA revealed that more than 75% of the bacterial isolates from the healthy plants contained microsymbionts belonging to the Rhizobium group and the remaining 25% were characterized as Pseudomonas and Burkholderia spp. The nodule from the declined plants lacks a sufficient number of rhizobia and was mostly white in color, small and contains the free-living endospore-forming Bacillus and other endophytic Burkholderia and Pseudomonas spp. The results provide a baseline data on the microsymbionts of rooibos nodules in Citrusdal and highlighted the need for further investigation using additional techniques.