Obligate Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria Hits Field Trials

A nitrogen-fixing bacteria species that indiscriminately colonizes plant cells is in the midst of an in-field exam.

Wheat 2 TrialGluconacetobacter diazotrophicus (Gd), a bacteria known for its symbiotic relationship with sugarcane, was selected for research into nitrogen fixation in other crops by Edward Cocking, professor and director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation. And, because of a unique ability to fix nitrogen in the absence of nodules and express cell wall degrading enzymes (i.e find its way into the host plant), Gd, under the right conditions, successfully colonized wheat, rice and maize in the laboratory.

Related: Teens Win Google Science Prize for N-Fixing in Cereal Crops
Know the N-Loss Pathways to Fine-Tune Nitrogen Management

When we published an article about the potential for Cocking’s research into Gd last July, we received a number of questions, and had many of our own. How does the bacteria enter the roots? What are the right conditions? Does the cost of supplying sugar to the bacteria result in a yield penalty to the plant? Where does it tend to congregate?

Fortunately, David Dent, director, Azotic Technologies Ltd, was on hand at the Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference this week in Saskatoon. In the following interview (available in both audio and video), Dent answers those questions and more, even fielding how long until the technology, if successful in field trials, might see commercialization.

Or listen to the audio-only version via Soundcloud:

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