MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: Why Not Mycorrhiza With Rapeseed (Biofuel Stock)?

Date: Sun May 2 17:31:04 2010
Posted By: Karl A. Wilson, Faculty (Professor), Biological Sciences, S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton (Binghamton University)
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 1271959294.Bc

Some early reports suggested that mycorrhizal fungi could fix atmospheric
nitrogen and pass this on to the associated plant.  However, it is now
generally accepted that this is not true.  It appears that the biological
fixation of diatomic nitrogen is only carried out by prokaryotes, e.g.
Rhizobium, Acetobacter, and various cyanobacteria.  These prokaryotes in
turn can associate with mycorrhizal fungi, which in turn associate with the
host plant, passing the fixed nitrogen along this chain.  Because of this
complex rhizosphere, engineering rapeseed  (canola, Brassica napus) with a
reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirement would really involve the engineering
of the entire  [Brassica  mycorrhizal fungus  prokaryotic nitrogen fixer]
system to produce the appropriate interactions.  This is certainly at this
point not an easy problem, requiring a better knowledge of these
interaction than we presently have.

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