Legumes play a vital role in global food supply because they are uniquely capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen (N) through symbioses with root and stem nodule bacteria, collectively called the rhizobia. These commonly include bacteria in the genera Rhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Sinorhizobium (Ensifer), and Bradyrhizobium, although other genera of bacteria have now been shown to form root nodule symbioses with several legume species (Weir, 2012). The symbiotic interaction is important for agricultural productivity, especially in less developed countries where nitrogen fertilizer is expensive. However, nodulation ability and competitiveness have practical importance in agricultural production, because the inoculation of efficient rhizobia is often unsuccessful, due to large part to the presence of competitive populations of ineffective indigenous rhizobia in soils (Toro, 1996; Triplett and Sadowsky, 1992). This protocol allows one us to quantitatively evaluate the relative nodulation competitiveness of Sinorhizobium strains.
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