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New Hampshire PBS

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Nitrogen Fixers

AlfalfaMost species of legumes (alfalfa, lentils, beans, chick-peas, peas, peanuts) and bacteria have a symbiotic relationship. A symbiotic relationship is one in which two species benefit each other. The roots of most of these plants have a nitrogen-fixing bacteria, rhizobium, that changes nitrogen in the air into the nitrates the plants need to synthesize proteins.

Go to the Root

Rhizobium bacteria invade the root hairs of the plants. They multiply and help root nodules grow! Then the bacteria changes free nitrogen, or the nitrogen from the air, to nitrates. Species in this order leave some of the nitrates in the soil, which can help other plants grow!