Colonization of roots of rice (Oryza sativa) by symbiotic Nostoc strains


Author for correspondence: M. Nilsson Tel: +46 8 163407 Fax: +46 8 165525 Email:


  • •   The lack of nitrogen in agriculture, and negative environmental effects of fertilizers, have stimulated interest in creating artificial associations between N2-fixing cyanobacteria and rice (Oryza sativa).
  • •   For the first time, numerous (57) Nostoc isolates from natural symbioses were screened for their ability to associate with rice. Successful colonizers were tested for N2-fixation by acetylene reduction, and for their ability to adsorb to roots by chlorophyll a measurements. Paranodules were induced by 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. And genetic fingerprints of the cyanobacteria were obtained for identification. Ultrastructural investigations were made by light and scanning electron microscopy.
  • •   Twenty-one symbiotic Nostoc isolates associated with rice roots, colonizing surfaces and intercellular spaces. Adsorption was high and appeared biphasic. The rates of N2 fixation by associated cyanobacteria were higher compared with those in free-living cyanobacteria. Paranodules were formed and colonized, but root growth was adversely affected.
  • •   Under laboratory conditions, artificial associations were created between one-third of the screened symbiotic cyanobacteria and rice. The agricultural potential for the association appears high since the cyanobacteria adsorb tightly and fix more N2 than when free-living.