The fate of an inoculum strain of Rhizobium japonicum was studied using a genetically marked strain I-11O subline carrying resistance markers for azide, rifampin, and streptomycin (I-110 ARS). At the time of planting into a field populated with R. japonicum, seeds of soybean cultivars Kent and Peking were inoculated with varying cell densities of strain I-110 ARS. At various times during the growing season, surface-sterilized root nodules were examined for the presence of the inoculum strain by plating onto selective media. The recovery of the inoculum strain was unambiguous, varying, in the case of Kent cultivar, from about 5% with plants (sampled at 51 days) that had been inoculated with 3 X 10(8) cells per cm of row to about 20% with plants (sampled at 90 days) that had been inoculated with 3 X 10(9) cells per cm. The symbiotically incompatible interaction of Peking and strain 110 in Rhizobium-populated field soil was confirmed by the finding that at 60 days after planting, only one nodule in 360 sampled contained strain I-110 ARS. The use of genetically marked Rhizobium bacteria was found to provide for precise identification of the inoculum strain in nodules of field-grown soybeans
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