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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1978 Jan;35(1):129-35.

Nitrogen fixation (acetylene reduction) associated with roots of winter wheat and sorghum in Nebraska.


Root segments and root-soil cores (6.5-cm diameter) from fields and nurseries of winter wheat and sorghum were tested for N2 fixation by using the acetylene reduction assay. Wheat samples (approximately 1,200) from 109 sites generally had low or no activity (0 to 3.1 nmol of C2H4 produced per h per g [dry weight] of root segments), even after 24 h of incubation. However, a commercial field of Scout 66, located in western Nebraska, exhibited appreciable activity (290 nmol of C2H4 produced per h per g [dry weight] of root segments). Of 400 sorghum lines and crosses, grain sorghums (i.e., CK-60A, Wheatland A, B517, and NP-16) generally exhibited higher nitrogenase activity than forage sorghums or winter wheats. CK-60A, a male sterile grain sorghum, was sampled at four locations and had the most consistent activity of 24 to 1,100 nmol of C2H4 produced per h per core. The maximum rate extrapolated to 2.5 g of N per hectare per day. Numerous N2-fixing bacterial isolates were obtained from wheat and sorghum roots that exhibited high nitrogenase activity. Most isolates were members of the Enterobacteriacae, i.e., Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter cloacae, and Erwinia herbicola.

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