Diversity and distribution of Frankia strains symbiotic with Ceanothus in California

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology





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Frankia strains symbiotic with Ceanothus present an interesting opportunity to study the patterns and causes of Frankia diversity and distribution within a particular host infectivity group. We intensively sampled Frankia from nodules on Ceanothus plants along an elevational gradient in the southern Sierra Nevada of California, and we also collected nodules from a wider host taxonomic and geographic range throughout California. The two sampling scales comprised 36 samples from eight species of Ceanothus representing six of the seven major biogeographic regions in and around California. The primary objective of this study was to use a quantitative model to test the relative importance of geographic separation, host specificity, and environment in influencing the identity of Ceanothus Frankia symbionts as determined by ribosomal DNA sequence data. At both sampling scales, Frankia strains symbiotic with Ceanothus exhibited a high degree of genetic similarity. Frankia strains symbiotic with Chamaebatia (Rosaceae) were within the same clade as several Ceanothus symbionts. Results from a classification and regression tree model used to quantitatively explain Frankia phylogenetic groupings demonstrated that the only significant variable in distinguishing between phylogenetic groups at the more local sampling scale was host species. At the regional scale, Frankia phylogenetic groupings were explained by host species and the biogeographic province of sample collection. We did not find any significant correspondence between Frankia and Ceanothus phylogenies indicative of coevolution, but we concluded that the identity of Frankia strains inhabiting Ceanothus nodules may involve interactions between host species specificity and geographic isolation.


California; Ceanothus; Frankia; Frankiaceae; Genomics; Microorganisms — Geographical distribution; Phylogeny; Rhamnaceae; Symbiosis; United States – Sierra Nevada


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Genetics and Genomics | Life Sciences | Microbiology | Plant Sciences



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