Late Lunch Talk: Tools for Studying the Ecology of Nitrogen Fixers by John Christian Gaby (NMBU)
Late Lunch Talk by John Christian Gaby from NMBU
Tools for Studying the Ecology of Nitrogen Fixers
Nitrogen fixation is the transformation of inert dinitrogen gas into ammonium, a reduced form of nitrogen which plants and microbes can use. Only prokaryotes possess an enzyme which can catalyze this transformation. The enzyme, known as nitrogenase, is encoded by three genes, nifH, nifD, and nifK. The nifH gene is more conserved than the other two, and thus it has become the marker gene preferred by microbial ecologists for studying nitrogen fixers. In this talk, I will describe the identification and quantification of nitrogen fixers through use of PCR-based tools such as nifH amplicon sequencing and qPCR (quantitative, real-time PCR), and I will provide examples of the application of these tools to study nitrogen fixers in agroecosystems. When paired with soil physico-chemical data, these techniques can lend insight into the factors driving nitrogen fixer diversity as well as identify dominant, plant-associated diazotrophs.