Plant Genotype Effects on Nitrogen Fixation in Grasses

  • Johanna Döbereiner
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 8)


Potentials for nitrogen fixation of economic importance have been shown now for a number of tropical forage grasses, sorghum, maize, rice, and perhaps even wheat. The exploitation of this potential, however, will be dependent on the identification of the limiting factors and agronomically feasible practices to eliminate them. Environmental effects are pronounced but rather difficult to manipulate. Whenever possible, preference should be given to plant-breeding practices.

Differences between cultivars and even ecotypes of Paspalum notatum in relation to the occurrence of Azotobacter paspali were shown several years ago. Differences in nitrogenase activity were then confirmed in this species, in Pennisetum purpureum, and in Digitaria decumbens. Among S1 lines of maize, several could be selected with nitrogenase activity many times higher than that of the original cultivar.

Considerable nitrogenase activity has now been shown in wheat. Estimates from 24-h intact soil core assays indicate up to 400 g N/h/day being fixed at flowering stage. Extracted root assays correlated well with the intact system (correlation coefficient r = 0.87), but gave values less than one-third of those obtained with intact soil-plant systems. Differences between cultivars were at the limit of significance.


Nitrogen Fixation Flowering Stage Intact Core Pennisetum Purpureum Original Cultivar 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Döbereiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa AgropecuariaUEPAE Itaguai via Campo GrandeRio de JaneiroBrazil

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