Rhizobium bacteria have an important role in nitrogen fixation, which is the process of converting atmospheric nitrogen gas (N2) into a usable form of nitrogen for plants and other organisms. The bacteria form a symbiotic relationship with leguminous plants such as soybeans, alfalfa, and clover.
The bacteria enter the root hairs of the plant and form nodules, which are specialized structures where the bacteria are located. Inside the nodules, the bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonium ions (NH4+), which can be used by the plant to synthesize amino acids and other nitrogen-containing compounds.
In return, the plant provides the bacteria with carbohydrates, which the bacteria use for energy. This symbiotic relationship is beneficial for both the plant and the bacteria, as the plant gains access to a vital nutrient (nitrogen), and the bacteria gain a source of energy.
Overall, Rhizobium bacteria play a crucial role in nitrogen fixation and contribute to the fertility of soils by making nitrogen available to plants through this symbiotic relationship.