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Dancing to a different tune, can we switch from chemical to biological nitrogen fixation for sustainable food security?

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Jhu, Min-Yao 


Our current food production systems are unsustainable, driven in part through the application of chemically fixed nitrogen. We need alternatives to empower farmers to maximise their productivity sustainably. Therefore, we explore the potential for transferring the root nodule symbiosis from legumes to other crops. Studies over the last decades have shown that preexisting developmental and signal transduction processes were recruited during the evolution of legume nodulation. This allows us to utilise these preexisting processes to engineer nitrogen fixation in target crops. Here, we highlight our understanding of legume nodulation and future research directions that might help to overcome the barrier of achieving self-fertilising crops.


Acknowledgements: We thank Anindya Kundu, Chai Hao Chiu, and Victor Hugo Moura De Souza for their valuable discussion and Eli Marable’s feedback on the early draft of this manuscript. We appreciate Jongho Sun for providing a calcium spiking trace for Fig 1.


Nitrogen Fixation, Fabaceae, Symbiosis, Crops, Agricultural

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PLoS Biol

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1172165)