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Tuatara: Volume 20, Issue 3, November 1973

Book Review — Biological Nitrogen Fixation by John Postgate

Book Review
Biological Nitrogen Fixation
by John Postgate

Merrow Publishing Co. Ltd, 1972, 61 pages.

This is the second of the Biology Series of Merrow Monographs and like all monographs it is limited in its scope. In this case, however, John Postgate clearly states his aim — to survey the enormous progress made during the decade 1960–1970 in this field to which he has made a significant contribution.

The range and importance of organisms capable of nitrogen fixation are clearly indicated, while new concepts of the enzymology of the process, made possible by the development of new, simpler bioassays, such as the reduction of acetylene are described. The physiology of the process, particularly the apparent anomaly of oxygen inhibition of the extracted enzyme, even from aerobic organisms is well documented, including the question of the control of nitrogen-fixing activity.

The section on the ecology of fixing organisms again shows the change in our knowledge of the extent of the process, especially in non-legumes, but it is unfortunately marred by mislabelling of Figures 10 and 11 in the text.

The presentation is clear throughout and contains relatively few typographical errors and it will be interesting to see what further titles in this series are forthcoming. This monograph can be recommended as a distinctive and concise account of current research and ideas in a profoundly important area of biology.

J. K. Heyes