The current classification of the rhizobia (root-nodule symbionts) assigns them to six genera. It is strongly influenced by the small subunit (16S, SSU) rRNA molecular phylogeny, but such single-gene phylogenies may not reflect the evolution of the genome as a whole. To test this, parts of the atpD and recA genes have been sequenced for 25 type strains within the alpha -Proteobacteria, representing species in Rhizobium, Sinorhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Bradyrhizobium, Azorhizobium, Agrobacterium, Phyllobacterium, Mycoplana and Brevundimonas. The current genera Sinorhizobium and Mesorhizobium are well supported by these genes, each forming a distinct phylogenetic clade with unequivocal bootstrap support. There is good support for a Rhizobium clade that includes Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and the very close relationship between Agrobacterium rhizogenes and Rhizobium tropici is confirmed. There is evidence for recombination within the genera Mesorhizobium and Sinorhizobium, but the congruence of the phylogenies at higher levels indicates that the genera are genetically isolated. rRNA provides a reliable distinction between genera, but genetic relationships within a genus may be disturbed by recombination
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