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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2008 Aug;80(2):199-209. doi: 10.1007/s00253-008-1567-2. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

Use of nitrogen-fixing bacteria as biofertiliser for non-legumes: prospects and challenges.

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  • 1Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, 100 016, India.


The potential of nitrogen-fixing (NF) bacteria to form a symbiotic relationship with leguminous plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen has been exploited in the field to meet the nitrogen requirement of the latter. This phenomenon provides an alternative to the use of the nitrogenous fertiliser whose excessive and imbalanced use over the decades has contributed to green house emission (N2O) and underground water leaching. Recently, it was observed that non-leguminous plants like rice, sugarcane, wheat and maize form an extended niche for various species of NF bacteria. These bacteria thrive within the plant, successfully colonizing roots, stems and leaves. During the association, the invading bacteria benefit the acquired host with a marked increase in plant growth, vigor and yield. With increasing population, the demand of non-leguminous plant products is growing. In this regard, the richness of NF flora within non-leguminous plants and extent of their interaction with the host definitely shows a ray of hope in developing an ecofriendly alternative to the nitrogenous fertilisers. In this review, we have discussed the association of NF bacteria with various non-leguminous plants emphasizing on their potential to promote host plant growth and yield. In addition, plant growth-promoting traits observed in these NF bacteria and their mode of interaction with the host plant have been described briefly.

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