Materials

■ protective gloves

■ 2 three-inch flowerpots

■ 2 microscope slides

■ 1 prepared slide of a soybean root nodule with symbiotic Rhizobium bacteria

■ compound light microscope

■ stereoscope or magnifying glass

Background

1. Define symbiosis, and give examples.

2. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria and leguminous plants have a symbiotic relationship.

3. Rhizobium is a genus of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Rhizobium species exist in soil and in the root nodules of leguminous plants such as soybeans.

4. Green root nodules indicate actively reproducing bacteria that are not fixing nitrogen. Pink nodules indicate bacteria that are actively fixing nitrogen but are not reproducing.

5. The process of nitrogen fixation is the basis of the nitrogen cycle. Only a few kinds of organisms are capable of converting nitrogen gas into a form that is usable by other organisms.

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