After photosynthesis, biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) is considered
the most important biological process on the planet. This is a process
through which the large amount of atmospheric nitrogen (N2) present
in the atmosphere is converted into forms usable by plants through cat–
alyzation by the nitrogenase enzyme found in nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Bacteria that develop symbiosis with legumes are called rhizobia.
Rhizobia occur naturally in the soil, but legumes benefit from being
inoculated with more efficient rhizobia on seeds or roots. These rhizo–
bia must be carefully selected because they vary widely in their ability
to efficiently contribute N to the plant; their performance may also be
affected by the climate and soil (their environment). Researchers are
developing more refined tools to study the effects of this interaction
with the environment, including statistical modeling and methods to
characterize plant adaptability in various environments.
In the July–August 2021 issue of Agronomy Journal, scientists at
the Federal University of Lavras are the first to apply these tools for
rhizobia selection in field studies with common bean. The authors say
these methods can and should be adopted for selecting rhizobia specific
to other legume species.
Adapted from Oliveira, D.P., Soares, B.L., Ferreira, P.A.A., Passos, T.R., Andrade,
M.J.B., Ferreira, D.F., & Moreira, F.M.S. (2021). Selection of elite Rhizobium
strains by biometric techniques for inoculation in common bean. Agronomy
Journal, 113, 3244–3257. https://doi.org/10.1002/agj2.20762