Legume trees and shrubs in the tropics: nitrogen fixation in perspective

Abstract

The currently known nodulation status of woody members of the three sub-families of the Leguminosae is summarized. Nodulation potential cannot be assumed, even in the Papilionoideae. Nodulating genera show great diversity in nodulation processes, from infection through to final nodule structure. Estimates of N2 fixation in natural ecosystems are difficult to achieve, but generally suggest low rates. This may relate to limitation of nutrients other than combined N: N2 fixation should be considered in conjunction with other constraints on growth. Mycorrhizas and cluster roots may be important components in N acquisition, supplementing N2 fixation as well as enabling uptake of other nutrients, including water. The papilionoid tribe Mirbelieae is used as an example of how Australian legumes appear to be particularly versatile in methods of nutrient acquisition. Great diversity in both host and rhizobia is illustrated in Acacia symbioses and suggests considerable scope for selection and improvement. Before long-term sustainable systems involving nodulated woody legumes can be managed, more information is needed on how natural systems operate.

Citation

Sprent, J.I. Legume trees and shrubs in the tropics: nitrogen fixation in perspective. Soil Biology and Biochemistry (1995) 27 (4-5) 401-407. [DOI: 10.1016/0038-0717(95)98610-Z]

Legume trees and shrubs in the tropics: nitrogen fixation in perspective

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