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The legume genus Mimosa has > 500 species, with two major centres of diversity, Brazil (c. 350 spp.) and Mexico (c. 100 spp.). In Brazil most species are nodulated by Burkholderia. Here we asked whether this is also true of native and endemic Mexican species. We have tested this apparent affinity for betaproteobacteria by examining the symbionts of native and endemic species of Mimosa in Mexico, especially from the central highlands where Mimosa spp. have diversified. Nodules were tested for betaproteobacteria using in situ immunolocalization. Rhizobia isolated from the nodules were genetically characterized and tested for their ability to nodulate Mimosa spp. Immunological analysis of 25 host taxa suggested that most (including all the highland endemics) were not nodulated by betaproteobacteria. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA, recA, nodA, nodC and nifH genes from 87 strains isolated from 20 taxa confirmed that the endemic Mexican Mimosa species favoured alphaproteobacteria in the genera Rhizobium and Ensifer: this was confirmed by nodulation tests. Host phylogeny, geographic isolation and coevolution with symbionts derived from very different soils have potentially contributed to the striking difference in the choice of symbiotic partners by Mexican and Brazilian Mimosa species.