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Bacteriocin-like substances were commonly produced by slow-growing Rhizobium japonicum and cowpea rhizobia on an L-arabinose medium. Antagonism between strains of R. japonicum was not detected in vitro; however, such strains were often sensitive to some bacteriocins produced by cowpea rhizobia. Inhibitory zones (2 to 8 mm from colony margins), produced by 58 of 66 R. japonicum test strains, were reproducibly detected with Corynebacterium nebraskense as an indicator. Quantitative production was not related to symbiotic properties of effective strains, since nine noninfective strains and one ineffective strain produced bacteriocin. Eight R. japonicum strains that did not produce bacteriocin nevertheless formed effective nodules on soybeans. R. japonicum strains that produced bacteriocin in vitro had no antagonistic effect on nonproducer strains during soybean nodulation. Under controlled conditions, a nonproducer (3I1b135) predominated over a bacteriocin producer (3Ilb6) when inoculated at 1:1 and 1:9 ratios. Depending on the particular ratio, up to 38% of the total nodules formed were infected with mixed combinations. The bacteriocin(s) had a restricted host range and antibiotic-like properties which included the ability to be dialyzed and resistance to heat (75 to 80°C, 30 min), Pronase, proteinase K, trypsin, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease. R.japonicum strains representing genetic, serological, cultural, and geographic diversity were differentiated into three groups on the basis of bacteriocin production.