Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Assessment of plant-associative bacterial nitrogen (N) fixation is crucial for selection and development of elite diazotrophic inoculants that could be used to supply cereal crops with nitrogen in a sustainable manner. Although diazotrophic bacteria possess diverse oxygen tolerance mechanisms, most require a sub 21% oxygen environment to achieve optimal stability and function of the N-fixing catalyst nitrogenase. Consequently, assessment of N fixation is routinely carried out on "free-living" bacteria grown in the absence of a host plant and such experiments may not accurately divulge activity in the rhizosphere where the availability and forms of nutrients such as carbon and N, which are key regulators of N fixation, may vary widely. Here, we present a modified in situ acetylene reduction assay (ARA), utilizing the model cereal barley as a host to comparatively assess nitrogenase activity in diazotrophic bacteria. The assay is rapid, highly reproducible, applicable to a broad range of diazotrophs, and can be performed with simple equipment commonly found in most laboratories that investigate plant-microbe interactions. Thus, the assay could serve as a first point of order for high-throughput identification of elite plant-associative diazotrophs.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Microbiol

Publication Date





acetylene reduction assay, diazotroph, endophyte, nitrogen fixation, symbiosis