Nodulation and nitrogen fixation by Mimosa spp. in the Cerrado and Caatinga biomes of Brazil


Author for correspondence:
E. K. James
Tel: +44 1382 560017


  • An extensive survey of nodulation in the legume genus Mimosa was undertaken in two major biomes in Brazil, the Cerrado and the Caatinga, in both of which there are high degrees of endemicity of the genus.
  • Nodules were collected from 67 of the 70 Mimosa spp. found. Thirteen of the species were newly reported as nodulating. Nodules were examined by light and electron microscopy, and all except for M. gatesiae had a structure typical of effective Mimosa nodules. The endosymbiotic bacteria in nodules from all of the Mimosa spp. were identified as Burkholderia via immunolabelling with an antibody against Burkholderia phymatum STM815.
  • Twenty of the 23 Mimosa nodules tested were shown to contain nitrogenase by immunolabelling with an antibody to the nitrogenase Fe- (nifH) protein, and using the δ15N (15N natural abundance) technique, contributions by biological N2 fixation of up to 60% of total plant N were calculated for Caatinga Mimosa spp.
  • It is concluded that nodulation in Mimosa is a generic character, and that the preferred symbionts of Brazilian species are Burkholderia. This is the first study to demonstrate N2 fixation by beta-rhizobial symbioses in the field.