Biological Nitrogen Fixation

RESEARCH CHALLENGES

A Review of Research Grants Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development

Board on Science and Technology for International Development

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C. 1994



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Biological Nitrogen Fixation: RESEARCH CHALLENGES Biological Nitrogen Fixation RESEARCH CHALLENGES A Review of Research Grants Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development Board on Science and Technology for International Development National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1994

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Biological Nitrogen Fixation: RESEARCH CHALLENGES NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievement of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. This project was made possible with funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Grant No. DPE-5545-A-00-8068-00. Available from: Board on Science and Technology for International Development National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 This report is available on Internet via the National Academy of Sciences' World Wide Web host at http://www.nas.edu and via the U.S. Agency for International Development's Gopher at gopher.usaid.gov Copyright 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Biological Nitrogen Fixation: RESEARCH CHALLENGES PANEL ON BNF RESEARCH GRANTS Ralph W.F. Hardy, Boyce-Thompson Institute, Ithaca, New York, Chairman Robert H. Burris, Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin Frans J. deBruijn, MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan Johanna Döbereiner, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Allan R.J. Eaglesham, Boyce-Thompson Institute, Ithaca, New York Walter Andrew Hill, College of Agriculture and Home Economics, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama Ann Mary Hirsch, Department of Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, California William B. Lacy, College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania Stewart R. Smith, Agricultural Research and Development, LiphaTech, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mercedes Umali-Garcia, College of Forestry, University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines Delane E. Welsch, Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota Johnny C. Wynne, Experiment Station, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina Consultant Lloyd Frederick, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University (ret.), and AID Consultant, Cambridge, Iowa Staff Maurice Fried, Study Director Connie Reges, Administrative Secretary Michael McD. Dow, Acting Director, BOSTID

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Biological Nitrogen Fixation: RESEARCH CHALLENGES Preface In 1979, following the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), the United States announced a program for science and technology cooperation as a major initiative. In 1981, congressional legislation authorized the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) to initiate a research grants program identified as the Program in Science and Technology Cooperation (PSTC). PSTC was created to fund innovative scientific research on issues of importance to developing countries. PSTC had the following objectives: (1) to assist developing countries to strengthen scientific and technological capacity; (2) to address significant problems in developing nations on a regionwide basis; and (3) to fund innovative research of high scientific merit. Further, PSTC sought to foster collaboration between scientists and other technology experts in the United States as well as scientists in developing nations. In 1985, again under congressional mandate, AID established a parallel grants program, called the U.S.-Israel Cooperative Development Research Program (CDR), to encourage collaborative research between Israeli scientists and scientists of developing nations. Its objectives were similar to those of PSTC, providing funding for research in both Israel and a developing country, with the stipulation that the research should be a cooperative endeavor. In 1982, with support of a grant received under PSTC, the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, the unit of the

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Biological Nitrogen Fixation: RESEARCH CHALLENGES National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences responsible for cooperation with developing countries, established a research grants program under the auspices of a Committee on Research Grants (CRG). All three of these programs included innovative research on biological nitrogen fixation (BNF). The grants were similar in size and involved developing-country scientists either alone, in partnership with a U.S. scientist, or in partnership with an Israeli scientist. In 1992, the National Research Council appointed a Panel on BNF Research Grants to elucidate the contribution of the USAID-supported BNF research conducted under the PSTC, CDR, and CRG programs. The panel was requested to advise on the impact of these grants and to suggest potential opportunities and directions for future research utilizing information obtained from reports and site visits to selected grantees and their collective experience. The panel met twice, on September 29-30, 1992, and April 6-7, 1993. The panel concluded that expanded use of biological nitrogen fixation is equally critical to future crop and tree production in both developed and developing countries. Accordingly, a major part of the report provided justification for expanding investments in BNF around the world. High priority research directions are identified for developed and developing countries. In many cases they are similar. Site visits were made to projects in the Philippines, Thailand, and Kenya, and mail inquiries were made to other AID grantees, both past and present. Based on these visits and responses to inquiries, the panel assessed the major accomplishments from the AID-funded research. The report concludes with recommendations for future BNF research in both developing and developed countries. Research in biological nitrogen fixation is unique in its unusual potential to have a favorable impact on food, feed, and tree production, on regional and global environments, on fossil fuel use, and on sustainability. The panel wishes to thank Maurice Fried, who provided strong staff support for meetings, visits, inquiries, summaries, and drafting of the report. The chairman also thanks the panel for their dedicated contributions of wisdom on biological nitrogen fixation, and especially Allan R.J. Eaglesham for extensive editing of the report and drafting the executive summary. Ralph W.F. Hardy, Chairman Panel on Biological Nitrogen Fixation