Symbiotic nitrogen fixation by rhizobia in legume root nodules injects approximately 40 million tonnes of nitrogen into agricultural systems each year. In exchange for reduced nitrogen from the bacteria, the plant provides rhizobia with reduced carbon and all the essential nutrients required for bacterial metabolism. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation requires exquisite integration of plant and bacterial metabolism. Central to this integration are transporters of both the plant and the rhizobia, which transfer elements and compounds across various plant membranes and the two bacterial membranes. Here we review current knowledge of legume and rhizobial transport and metabolism as they relate to symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Although all legume-rhizobia symbioses have many metabolic features in common, there are also interesting differences between them, which show that evolution has solved metabolic problems in different ways to achieve effective symbiosis in different systems.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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