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Old 04-15-2009, 11:59 PM   #1
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Default 'Natural' Nitrogen-fixing Bacteria Protect Soybeans From Aphids

'Natural' Nitrogen-fixing Bacteria Protect Soybeans From Aphids
ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2009) An invasion of soybean aphids poses a problem for soybean farmers requiring application of pesticides, but a team of Penn State entomologists thinks a careful choice of nitrogen-fixing bacteria may provide protection against the sucking insects.

'Natural' Nitrogen-fixing Bacteria Protect Soybeans From Aphids
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"In most cases, the inoculant companies provide rhizobia for inoculation that gives plants the maximum yield," said Jennifer M. Dean, postdoctoral fellow in entomology. "Their rhizobia are highly competitive against naturally occurring nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The inoculant companies treat the natural rhizobia almost as a pest."

Because of this, soybeans almost uniformly incorporate the specially developed rhizobia rather than the natural ones. However, the researchers found that the plants associated with the naturally occurring rhizobia had lower aphid densities than either the artificially fertilized plants or the plants inoculated with commercial rhizobia. They also found the same level of nitrogen in both soybean plants inoculated with natural rhizobia and those inoculated with commercial varieties.

"This is the first time anyone has shown how different strains of rhizobia can effect herbivory," said De Moraes. "This may be another tool to use to protect plants from insect herbivory. It may also be applicable to other legumes."
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