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Title: Biological nitrogen fixation in non-leguminous field crops: Facilitating the evolution of an effective association between 'Azospirillum' and wheat
Contributor(s): Kennedy, Ivan R (author); Pereg, Lily (author); Wood, Craig (author); Deaker, Rosalind (author); Gilchrist, Kate (author); Katupitiya, Sunietha (author)
Publication Date: 1997
DOI: 10.1023/A:1004260222528
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Abstract: Recent advances towards achieving significant nitrogen fixation by diazotrophs in symbioses with cereals are reviewed, referring to the literature on the evolution of effective symbioses involving rhizobia and 'Frankia' as microsymbionts. Data indicating that strains of 'Acetobacter' and 'Herbaspirillum' colonizing specific cultivars of sugarcane as endophytes make a significant contribution to the nitrogen economy of this crop improves the prospects that similar associative systems may be developed for other gramineous species such as rice and wheat. By contrast, the transfer of nodulation genes similar to those in legumes or 'Parasponia' to achieve nodulation in crops like rice and wheat is considered to be a more ambitious and distant goal. Progress in developing an effective associative system for cereals has been materially assisted by the development of genetic tools based on the application of 'lacZ' and 'gusA' fusions with the promoters of genes associated with nitrogen fixation. These reporter genes have provided clear evidence that 'crack-entry' at the points of emergence of lateral roots or of 2,4-D induced 'para'-nodules is the most significant route of endophytic colonization. Furthermore, using the laboratory model of 'para'-nodulated wheat, there is now evidence that the ability of azospirilla and other nitrogen fixing bacteria to colonize extensively as endophytes can be genetically controlled. The most successful strain of 'Azospirillum brasilense' (Sp7-S) for endophytic colonization and nitrogen fixation in wheat seedlings is a mutant with reduced exopolysaccharide production. Most other strains of azospirilla do not colonize as endophytes and it is concluded that though these are poorly adapted to providing nitrogen for the host plant, they are well adapted for survival and persistence in soil. A research program combining the study of endophytic colonization by azospirilla with an examination of the factors controlling the effectiveness of association (oxygen tolerance and nitrogen transfer) is now being pursued. It is proposed that a process of facilitated evolution of 'para'-nodulated wheat involving the stepwise genetic improvement of both the prospective microsymbionts and the cereal host will eventually lead to effective nitrogen-fixing associations. In the attempt to achieve this goal, continued study of the endophytes occurring naturally in sugar cane and other grasses (e.g. 'Azoarcus' sp.) should be of assistance.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Plant and Soil, 194(1-2), p. 65-79
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 1573-5036
Field of Research (FOR): 070306 Crop and Pasture Nutrition
050303 Soil Biology
060504 Microbial Ecology
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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