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14 April 2014 Nitrogen fixation and symbiosis-induced accumulation of mineral nutrients by cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.)
Alphonsus K. Belane, Flora Pule-Meulenberg, Thabo I. Makhubedu, Felix D. Dakora
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Abstract

Little information currently exists on the relationship between rhizobial symbiosis and mineral accumulation in nodulated legumes. The aim of this study was to measure fixed nitrogen (N) in whole plants and in young fully expanded trifoliate leaves of cowpea genotypes, and to relate this to mineral accumulation in the leaves. The data revealed marked differences between high and low N2-fixing genotypes, with the former consistently showing greater %N, plant or leaf total N, and amount of N fixed compared with the latter. There was a 2.0–3.8-fold difference in amount of N fixed at whole-plant level between high- and low-fixing cowpea genotypes at Taung, South Africa, and 2.4–4.0-fold at Manga, Ghana. Furthermore, the genotypes with high N2 fixation consistently exhibited greater concentration and content of minerals (e.g. P, K, Mg, S, Na, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn and B) in their trifoliate leaves, whereas those that recorded low N2 fixation accumulated lesser amounts of mineral nutrients in leaves. In a nodulation assay, we found that rhizobial isolates TUT53b2vu and TUT33b4vu, which exhibited higher symbiotic efficiency (measured here as nodule number, nodule fresh weight, and plant dry matter yield), also elicited greater mineral accumulation in cowpea shoots, while strains with low N2-fixing ability induced limited mineral accumulation. These results, together with a correlation analysis, show that, at least in nodulated cowpea, there is a strong relationship between N2-fixing efficiency and mineral accumulation, two traits that could be exploited in breeding programs for improved human nutrition and health.

© CSIRO 2014
Alphonsus K. Belane, Flora Pule-Meulenberg, Thabo I. Makhubedu, and Felix D. Dakora "Nitrogen fixation and symbiosis-induced accumulation of mineral nutrients by cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.)," Crop and Pasture Science 65(3), 250-258, (14 April 2014). https://doi.org/10.1071/CP13283
Received: 17 August 2013; Accepted: 1 February 2014; Published: 14 April 2014
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