Methods for enhancing symbiotic nitrogen fixation
- Cite this article as:
- Hardarson, G. Plant Soil (1993) 152: 1. doi:10.1007/BF00016329
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Biological nitrogen fixation of leguminous crops is becoming increasingly important in attempts to develop sustainable agricultural production. However, these crops are quite variable in their effectiveness in fixing nitrogen. By the use of the 15N isotope dilution method some species have been found to fix large proportions of their nitrogen, while others like common bean have been considered rather inefficient. Methods for increasing N2 fixation are therefore of great importance in any legume work. Attempts to enhance nitrogen fixation of grain legumes has been mainly the domain of microbiologists who have selected rhizobial strains with superior effectiveness or competitive ability. Few projects have focused on the plant symbiont with the objective of improving N2 fixation as done in the FAO/IAEA Co-ordinated Research Programme which is being reported in this volume. The objective of the present paper is to discuss some possibilities available for scientists interested in enhancing symbiotic nitrogen fixation in grain legumes. Examples will be presented on work performed using agronomic methods, as well as work on the plant and microbial symbionts. There are several methods available to scientists working on enhancement of N2 fixation. No one approach is better than the others; rather work on the legume/Rhizobium symbiosis combining experience from various disciplines in inter-disciplinary research programmes should be pursued.