Endophytic bacteria represents a unique class of bacteria that can colonize interior tissues of plant and provide a range of benefits to the plant similar to those provided by the rhizospheric bacteria. Certain endophytic bacteria can provide nitrogen to the plants through biological nitrogen fixation, which is an important source of nitrogen input in agriculture and represents a promising substitute for chemical fertilizers, and are known as endophytic diazotrophic bacteria. Besides fixing nitrogen, endophytic bacteria can produce plant growth hormones like auxin and gibberellin, help in nutrient uptake, and increase the plant’s tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Various direct and indirect methods have been used to quantify the amount of nitrogen fixed by these bacteria, including the acetylene reduction assay, which is a quick but indirect method, and the 15N isotopic dilution assay, which is a robust and accurate method. Research on endophytic diazotrophic bacteria has come a long way, and in this chapter, we have briefly discussed the mechanisms of biological nitrogen fixation and methods to quantify the fixed nitrogen along with reviewing recent studies focused on evaluating the role of endophytic diazotrophic bacteria in promoting plant growth in both native and nonnative crop hosts.
Part of the book: Nitrogen in Agriculture