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The image into the remaining reveals normal means nodules, such out-of bur clover (Medicago)

The image into the remaining reveals normal means nodules, such out-of bur clover (Medicago)

In a symbiotic relationship with the soil bacteria known as ‘rhizobia’, legumes form nodules on their roots (or stems, see figure below) to ‘fix’ nitrogen into a form usable by plants (and animals). The process of biological nitrogen fixation was discovered by the Dutch microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck. Rhizobia (e.g., Rhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Sinorhizobium) fix atmospheric nitrogen or dinitrogen, Ndos, into inorganic nitrogen compounds, such as ammonium, NHcuatro + , which is then incorporated into amino acids, which can be utilized by the plant. Plants cannot fix nitrogen on their own, but need it in one form or another to make amino acids and proteins. Because legumes form nodules with rhizobia, they have high levels of nitrogen available to them. Their abundance of nitrogen is beneficial not only to the legumes themselves, but also to the plants around them. There are other sources of nitrogen in the soil, but are not always provided at the levels required by plants, making the symbiotic relationship between legumes and rhizobia highly beneficial. In return for the fixed nitrogen that they provide, the rhizobia are provided shelter inside of the plant’s nodules and some of the carbon substrates and micronutrients that they need to generate energy and key metabolites for the cellular processes that sustain life (Sprent, 2001). Nodulation and nitrogen fixation by rhizobia is not exclusive to legumes; rhizobia form root nodules on Parasponis Miq., a genus of five species in the Ulmaceae (see ‘Rosales’).