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Chickpeas - glasshouse selection of rhizo'uum strains for effective nodulation and nitrogen fixation

R.S. St John-Sweeting and C.J. Fazckas

Department of Agricultural Technology, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy SA 5371
South Australian Department of Agriculture, Struan SA 5271

This work was prompted by a farmer's request for experiments with Rhizobium on cultivars of chick pea, Cicer arietinum, after observing poor nodulation.


Four cultivars of chick pea were used in the experiment. The cultivars Opal and Garnet are of the Kabuli type and Dooen and Amethyst are of the smaller seeded desi type. Seeds of each cultivar were germinated at 21C. After four days 72 even seedlings were selected and planted into poly tubes containing one part of styrene, one part of peat and two parts of sand. The plants were then placed in the glasshouse for inoculation.

The treatment consisted of the 15 Rhizobium strains, IC172, CC1198, CC1193, CB1189, CC1190,1C2018,CC1192,CC1194,CC1195,CC1196,CC1197,IC59,1C60,IC76andIC165, commercial inoculum (CC1192) and a plus and minus nitrogen control. The trial was replicated four times. The Rhizobium strains were subcultured on yeast manitol media and dispensed in sterile water. Every 21 days, all treatments received nitrogen-free nutrient solution and the plus nitrogen control received 0.4 g/L ammonium nitrate. Plants were destructively sampled on the 70th day, top dry matter measurements and root observations were made. Analysis of variance was used to determine the difference between dry matter production of treatments.

Results and discussion

The cultivar Opal, with strains IC59, CB1189, IC60, IC165, CC1196 and CC1198, gave significantly greater dry matter production over the commercial inoculum. The dry matter increase produced by these strains ranged from 96% for IC59 to 11% for CC1198 greater than the production from the commercial inoculum. With the cultivars Garnet, Dooen and Amethyst, no strain significantly increased dry matter production over the commercial inoculum.

From root nodule observation of the 32 control plants at 70 days, no nodules were observed on the roots of the plus nitrogen controls. Three non-nitrogen plants had one nodule each and one plant had five nodules. The Leghaemoglobin content of nodules varied considerably.


We are grateful to Dr J. Brockwell of CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, Canberra, for the supply of 15 strains of Rhizobium.

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