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Parniske, M.; Ried, M. Wahrnehmung und Interpretation symbiontischer Signale durch Pflanzen und ihre bakteriellen Partner (Deigele, C., ed.). 105-116, (2016) ISBN: 978-3-89937-214-4

Mutualistic symbioses between plant roots and microorganisms can reduce the demand for chemical fertilizers in agriculture. Most crops are able to establish arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbiosis with fungi to take up phosphate more efficiently. A second symbiosis, nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis, supersedes energy-intensive nitrogen fertilization: Legumes such as peas, clover and soybeans take up rhizobia – special bacteria that are capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium – into their root cells. Plant root cells perceive rhizobia and AM fungi via very similar signaling molecules (N-acetylglucosamine tetra- or pentamers), even though the resultant developmental processes differ strongly. Interestingly, N-acetylglucosamine containing signals including fungal chitin- and bacterial peptidoglycan-fragments from their cell walls, also play a role in the recognition of pathogenic microorganisms.Despite the intrinsic sustainability potential of the nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis, too much of a good thing, however, has led to global problems: The massive increase in global meat production is largely based on soybean. Large scale soybean monoculture destroyed ecosystems in South America. Large scale animal production results in excessive methane and nitrogen release into the environment, which causes climate change and death zones in marine ecosystems, respectively. This calls for a considerable reduction in meat consumption.
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