Station 4 | Soybean

Soybean Glycine max

The soybean (Glycine max) belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae) and has been cultivated as a crop since about 1500 BC. Around six per cent of the world’s agricultural land is currently planted with soy, making it one of the most important oil plants.

The soybean forms an essential symbiosis with rhizobia. These bacteria colonize so-called “root nodules” on the plant, where they transform atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a form of nitrogen that can be used by the plant. In exchange, the plant provides the bacteria with sugar and other organic compounds. This partnership promotes plant growth and improves soil fertility by efficiently utilizing nitrogen. Our ecosystem benefits significantly from this symbiotic relationship as it reduces the need for external nitrogen fertilizer.

Root nodules on bean root. © Grafik: BotMuc/Tanja Simon