Nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture is inefficient, costly and can be environmentally damaging. Legume crops represent an economically and environmentally sound alternative, as their symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria enables them to thrive in the absence of nitrogen fertiliser. The bacteria (commonly referred to as rhizobia) are housed in specialised root organs, called nodules. Identifying critical components of legume nodulation is now needed to optimise the process and improve agriculture sustainability. This project aims to discover and functionally characterise novel factors that act in the development and control of legume root nodule numbers. Findings will considerably enhance the current nodulation model and could help to underpin strategies to reduce the reliance on nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture.

Expected Outcomes: Findings are anticipated to advance our understanding of how various genes and signals function in the development and regulation of legume nodules. Successful outcomes could also help to generate future publications

Techniques will include growing and maintaining soybean plants and compatible Bradyrhizobium bacteria, and will incorporate additional methods that may include generating transgenic soybean ‘hairy roots’ using Agrobacterium rhizogenes, fixing and treating roots to detect GUS activity, bioinformatic analyses, primer design and quantitative RT-PCR to confirm the regulation of candidate genes, etc.

Supervisor: Dr Brett Ferguson

Project members

Dr Brett Ferguson

Senior Research Fellow
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences