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Nitrogen fixation in maize: breeding opportunities
Wednesday, 2021/05/05 | 08:09:46

Seema SheoranSandeep KumarPradeep KumarRam Swaroop Meena & Sujay Rakshit

Theoretical and Applied Genetics May 2021; vol. 134:1263–1280


Maize (Zea mays L.) is a highly versatile crop with huge demand of nitrogen (N) for its growth and development. N is the most essential macronutrient for crop production. Despite being the highest abundant element in the atmosphere (~ 78%), it is scarcely available for plant growth. To fulfil the N demand, commercial agriculture is largely dependent on synthetic fertilizers. Excessive dependence on inorganic fertilizers has created extensive ecological as well as economic problems worldwide. Hence, for a sustainable solution to nitrogenous fertilizer use, development of biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in cereals will be the best alternative. BNF is a well-known mechanism in legumes where diazotrophs convert atmospheric nitrogen (N≡N) to plant-available form, ammonium (NH4+). From many decades, researchers have dreamt to develop a similar symbiotic partnership as in legumes to the cereal crops. A large number of endophytic diazotrophs have been found associated with maize. Elucidation of the genetic and molecular aspects of their interaction will open up new avenues to introgress BNF in maize breeding. With the advanced understanding of N-fixation process, researchers are at a juncture of breeding and engineering this symbiotic relationships in cereals. Different breeding, genetic engineering, omics, gene editing, and synthetic biology approaches will be discussed in this review to make BNF a reality in cereals. It will help to provide a road map to develop/improve the BNF in maize to an advance step for the sustainable production system to achieve the food and nutritional security.


See: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-021-03791-5

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