DNA amplification fingerprinting of the Azolla-Anabaena symbiosis

D. L. Eskew, G. Caetano-Anollés, B. J. Bassam, P. M. Gresshoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Azolla-Anabaena symbiosis has been used for centuries as a nitrogen biofertilizer in rice paddies. Genetic improvement of the symbiosis has been limited by the difficulty in identifying Azolla-Anabaena accessions and Anabaena azollae strains. The recently developed technique of DNA amplification fingerprinting (DAF) was applied to this problem. DAF uses single, short, oligonucleotide primers of arbitrary sequence to direct amplification of a characteristic set of DNA products by a thermostable DNA polymerase in a thermocycling reaction. The products are separated in polyacrylamide gels and detected by silver staining. DAF could easily distinguish and positively identify accessions of Azolla-Anabaena with DNA extracted from the intact symbioses. The contribution of prokaryotic Anabaena sequences to the fingerprint of the intact symbioses, however, ranged from 0 to 77%, depending on the primer sequence. Therefore, DNA extracted from the intact symbioses would not be suitable for Azolla taxonomy studies. The fingerprints of Anabaena strains isolated by sucrose gradient centrifugation from different species of Azolla could be easily distinguished, and DAF patterns were used to confirm the maternal pattern of transmission of Anabaena in a sexual hybrid. Template DNA extracted from roots was used to produce fingerprints for Azolla without interference from the microsymbiont. Comparison of the patterns from the parents and a hybrid gave strong evidence confirming sexual hybridization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-373
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • PCR
  • arbitrary oligonucleotide primer
  • eukaryotic
  • prokaryotic
  • silver staining
  • taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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