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Regulation of nodule efficiency by the undisturbed soybean plant

, : Regulation of nodule efficiency by the undisturbed soybean plant. Journal of Experimental Botany 42(238): 687-691

Acetylene reduction activity (ARA) has been widely used to estimate comparative rates of nitrogen fixation in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]. To use the non-destructive closed-container ARA assay to study plant-mediated regulation of N2 fixation, it was first necessary to determine the validity of the ARA procedure. Thus, well-nodulated, hydroponically-grown soybean plants were individually assayed for ARA twice weekly for 5 weeks. Plants were subsequently analysed for total nitrogen by the Kjeldahl procedure and the values obtained were compared with the N-accumulation values estimated by ARA. For the 168 plants examined, ARA measurements underestimated N2 fixation by approximately 50%. However, N2 fixation was underestimated by approximately 80% in plants with a very low ARA whereas N2 fixation was underestimated by only 20% in plants with a high ARA. Because of the accuracy and reliability of the Kjeldahl meaurements, these reuslts show that modulated soybean plants can exhibit different efficiencies in acetylene reduction. Thus, vigorous, well-nodulated, hydroponically-grown soybean plants readily control nodule efficiency and the N fixation process.

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