Jour. of the Chemical Society 72 (Part 2): 64-66 (1897)

Suitability of Nodule-Bacteria of Different Origin for Various Kinds of Leguminosae.
By Friedrich Nobbe and Lorenz Hiltner (Landw. Versuchs-Stat., 1896, 47, 257-268).

Representatives of the six principal groups of the Papilionaceae were grown in pots containing a mixture of sand and soil. One plant in each case was left without inoculation, the other five being inoculated with pure cultivations of nodule bacteria from (1) Phaseolus multiflorus, (2) Pisum sativum, (3) Trifolium pratense, (4) Robinia pseudacacia, (5) Lupinus luteus, and (6) Ornithopus sativus respectively. The plants selected for experiment were (1) Phaseolus multiflorus, (2) Pisum sativum, Vicia viilosa, and Lathyrus sylvestris, (3) Trifoliurn pratense and Medicago sativa, (4) Robinia pseudacacia, (5) Lupinus luteus and Anthyllis vulneraria, (6) Ornithopus sativus. Each pot contained air-dried garden soil (1.2 kilos, containing 3.45 grams of nitrogen), pure quartz sand (6.8 kilos.), KCl (0.5 gram) and Ca3(PO4)2 (5.0 grams). The following table shows the amount of water evaporated from the plants, indicating the relative amount of growth in each case, and also the total nitrogen in the produce.

  Inoculated with bacteria from
Phaseolus Pisum Trifolium Robinia Lupinus Not inoculated
Evaporation (litres)
1. Phaseolus mult. 20.17 8.66 17.46 12.65 12.89 11.30
2. a. Pisum sativum 18.31 46.26 6.33 4.93 5.56 3.62
b. Vicia villosa 35.46 44.48 3.91 5.76 3.96
c. Lathyrus silv. 3.09 8.10 4.71 3.70 5.43 5.65
3. a. Trifol. prat. 9.01 6.25 35.83 7.82 6.58
4. Robinia pseudac. 3.57 4.53 5.85 14.82 4.23 5.46
Total Nitrogen (milligrams)
1. Phaseolus mult. 878 160
2. a. Pisum sativum 853 2,791 125 105 142 56
b. Vicia villosa 2,310 3,444 280 144 79
c. Lathyrus silv. 49 384 68 62 78 81
3. a. Trifol. prat. 392 108 2,136 123 123
4. Robinia pseudac. 52 51 74 509 57 82

In the case of Medicago sativa, inoculation with Trifolium-bacteria had very little effect, whilst the other bacteria seemed to have no effect at all. The lupins failed. With regard to Anthyllis, the plants all grew much alike; only the Robinia-bacteria had a slight effect. None of the serradella plants had nodules.

The results show that inoculation is only certain when bacteria from similar plants are used. Mutual availability, without essentially lessened effect, was observed only in the case of the Viciaceae. Phaseolus-bacteria are effective for all the Viciaceae, but the inoculation was much retarded. Pisum-bacteria were only available for the Viciaceae and for Phaseolus, and Robinia-bacteria only for Robinia.

The most obvious effect of inoculation was increased vigour and development of the plants; increased flower and fruit production was also observed, especially in the case of peas and red clover. Generally, the vegetating period is prolonged by inoculation.

A period of hunger was never observed when bacteria corresponding with the plant were employed for inoculation, but when, for instance, peas and vetches were inoculated with Phaseolus-bacteria there was a long period of hunger. In sand cultures, there may be a period of hunger even when the plants are suitably inoculated, owing to the nodules not being fully developed by the time the supply of nitrogen of the seed is exhausted.

Root nodules have no essential influence on the above-ground growth as long as the soil contains sufficient nitrogen. As soon as soil nitrogen fails, leguminous plants which have no nodules are no longer able to develop. The leaves of Leguminosae cannot, therefore, be the organs by means of which free nitrogen is assimilated.

N. H. J. M.