Plant and Soil

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 423–442 | Cite as

Free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria in egyptian soils and their possible contribution to soil fertility

  • Y. Abd-El-Malek
Article

Summary

Azotobacter and nitrogen-fixing clostridia are ubiquitous soil inhabitants in Egypt, Iraq and probably in all of the Near East. They occur in high numbers except where barrenness, NaCl accumulation or other depressing factors exist. The soil environment has proved favourable for their development since their response to supplementation with energy materials is quite marked. The organisms are resistant to drought, but optimal activity of Azotobacter is around 60% W.H.C. while that of clostridia is at 100%. Azotobacter as well as clostridia show optimal activity around 30°C, higher temperatures favour clostridia while lower ones favour Azotobacter. Gains of soil nitrogen are linked to the growth of Azotobacter rather than to that of Clostridium. The amounts of nitrogen gained and fixation efficiency are affected by the nature of the substrate, being greatest in clay, then in sand and calcareous soils and least in liquid media. Phosphate is essential, favouring nitrogen fixation firstly by satisfying the high phosphate requirement of Azotobacter and secondly by increasing the rate of decomposition of otherwise unavailable material. Gains of combined nitrogen and fixation efficiency are also affected by the type of organic matter added. A wide C/N ratio and susceptibility to decomposition are specially beneficial properties. Plant residues enrich the soil with nitrogen, partly by enhancing nitrogen fixation and partly by causing immobilization of mineral nitrogen which would otherwise be leached out of the soil by irrigation.

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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Abd-El-Malek
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureCairo UniversityGizaU.A.R.

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