This study was undertaken to characterize the nod and sdh operons of Bradyrhizobium japonicum and Sinorhizobium meliloti. Ten putative B. japonicum mutants with altered nod gene induction characteristics were isolated by screening mutants for genistein-independent nod gene expression. The mutants were found to have higher nodY expression than the wild-type in the presence of genistein. The increased sensitivity of all mutants to genistein was more apparent under suboptimal inducer concentration (0.1muM) and/or temperature (15°C). The expression of nodY gene induction was determined for five strains (Bj30050, 53, 56, 57, 58) under different temperature and inducer conditions. These five strains were also found to produce more lipochitooligosaccharide than the wild-type, at both 25°C and 15°C. Three of the ten mutant strains (including Bj30056 and 57) were unable to fix nitrogen with soybeans grown at optimal temperatures. Based on nodY gene expression and symbiotic phenotype the B. japonicum mutants were classified into three groups.