Nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with leguminous and non-leguminous plants
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Nitrogen is generally considered one of the major limiting nutrients in plant growth. The biological process responsible for reduction of molecular nitrogen into ammonia is referred to as nitrogen fixation. A wide diversity of nitrogen-fixing bacterial species belonging to most phyla of the Bacteria domain have the capacity to colonize the rhizosphere and to interact with plants. Leguminous and actinorhizal plants can obtain their nitrogen by association with rhizobia or Frankia via differentiation on their respective host plants of a specialized organ, the root nodule. Other symbiotic associations involve heterocystous cyanobacteria, while increasing numbers of nitrogen-fixing species have been identified as colonizing the root surface and, in some cases, the root interior of a variety of cereal crops and pasture grasses. Basic and advanced aspects of these associations are covered in this review.