Microbiologist J.K. Arap Keter is betting that some recently collected strains of the bacterial genus Rhizobium will soon join the family of other nonpolluting, inexpensive, microbial biofertilizers currently in use by thousands of East African farmers on legume crops.

But first he and colleagues in the department of soil science at the University of Nairobi in Kenya must show that the new isolates can foster different plants' growth by helping the plants use nitrogen. After that, they must culture large enough amounts of the microorganism for farmers to cheaply add the bacteria to different legume seeds and increase their yields. Farmlands in developing countries crave nutrients, but because farmers can neither afford the chemical fertilizers nor live with the pollution they create, they opt for biofertilizers like rhizobia.

Meanwhile, at microbiologist P. Atthasampunna's lab at the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research in Bangkok, re- searchers are using microorganisms...

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