Micromanaging the nitrogen cycle in agroecosystems

Isaac M. Klimasmith, Angela D. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


While large inputs of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers enable our current rate of crop production and feed a growing global population, these fertilizers come at a heavy environmental cost. Driven by microbial processes, excess applied nitrogen is lost from agroecosystems as nitrate and nitrous oxide (N2O) contaminating aquatic ecosystems and contributing to climate change. Interest in nitrogen-fixing microorganisms as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers is rapidly accelerating. Microbial inoculants offer the promise of a sustainable and affordable source of nitrogen, but the impact of inoculants on nitrogen dynamics at an ecosystem level is not fully understood. This review synthesizes recent studies on microbial inoculants as tools for nutrient management and considers the ramifications of inoculants for nitrogen transformations beyond fixation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1055
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • agricultural sustainability
  • biostimulant
  • microbial inoculant
  • nitrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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