Author(s): Hardy RW, Holsten RD, Jackson EK, Burns RC
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Abstract The methodology, characteristics and application of the sensitive C(2)H(2)-C(2)H(4) assay for N(2) fixation by nitrogenase preparations and bacterial cultures in the laboratory and by legumes and free-living bacteria in situ is presented in this comprehensive report. This assay is based on the N(2)ase-catalyzed reduction of C(2)H(2) to C(2)H(4), gas chromatographic isolation of C(2)H(2) and C(2)H(4), and quantitative measurement with a H(2)-flame analyzer. As little as 1 mumumole C(2)H(4) can be detected, providing a sensitivity 10(3)-fold greater than is possible with (15)N analysis.A simple, rapid and effective procedure utilizing syringe-type assay chambers is described for the analysis of C(2)H(2)-reducing activity in the field. Applications to field samples included an evaluation of N(2) fixation by commercially grown soybeans based on over 2000 analyses made during the course of the growing season. Assay values reflected the degree of nodulation of soybean plants and indicated a calculated seasonal N(2) fixation rate of 30 to 33 kg N(2) fixed per acre, in good agreement with literature estimates based on Kjeldahl analyses. The assay was successfully applied to measurements of N(2) fixation by other symbionts and by free living soil microorganisms, and was also used to assess the effects of light and temperature on the N(2) fixing activity of soybeans. The validity of measuring N(2) fixation in terms of C(2)H(2) reduction was established through extensive comparisons of these activities using defined systems, including purified N(2)ase preparations and pure cultures of N(2)-fixing bacteria.With this assay it now becomes possible and practicable to conduct comprehensive surveys of N(2) fixation, to make detailed comparisons among different N(2)-fixing symbionts, and to rapidly evaluate the effects of cultural practices and environmental factors on N(2) fixation. The knowledge obtained through extensive application of this assay should provide the basis for efforts leading to the maximum agricultural exploitation of the N(2) fixation reaction.
This article was published in Plant Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy