In agroecosystems, nitrogen is one of the major nutrients limiting plant growth. To meet the increased nitrogen demand in agriculture, synthetic fertilizers have been used extensively in the latter part of the twentieth century, which have led to environmental challenges such as nitrate pollution. Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in plants is an essential mechanism for sustainable agricultural production and healthy ecosystem functioning. BNF by legumes and associative, endosymbiotic, and endophytic nitrogen fixation in non-legumes play major roles in reducing the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture, increased plant nutrient content, and soil health reclamation. This review discusses the process of nitrogen-fixation in plants, nodule formation, the genes involved in plant-rhizobia interaction, and nitrogen-fixing legume and non-legume plants. This review also elaborates on current research efforts involved in transferring nitrogen-fixing mechanisms from legumes to non-legumes, especially to economically important crops such as rice, maize, and wheat at the molecular level and relevant other techniques involving the manipulation of soil microbiome for plant benefits in the non-legume root environment.
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