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In association with the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the James Hutton Institute, we have had the opportunity to explore and undertake research on legume-rhizobia symbiosis. Having studied the symbiotic specificities of various tropical and arid legume species, we are aware that much remains unexplored in the field of nitrogen-fixing legumes.

Because most commercial and cultivated legumes have been selected to thrive in fertilised soils, their benefits to developing communities are likely to be minimal, given the low-input nature of many small-scale farming systems. It is therefore important for us to understand the dynamics of Biological Nitrogen Fixation by wild legumes which are adapted to their natural, indigenous soil and environments. These include wild legumes which are able to grow in nutrient poor soils.

Research implications

  • Identification of novel rhizobia species/strains highly effective at fixing nitrogen.
  • Directly increase pulse yields with new rhizobial inoculants and different varieties of legumes.
  • Exclude the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.
  • Increase soil health and productivity for growth of various agricultural crops.
  • Rehabilitate soil in natural ecosystems.
  • Contribute to the knowledge of legume and rhizobia diversities in Thailand.

Aims & Goals

Our immediate goal is to assess the nodulation status of wild legumes growing in the Northern and North-Eastern regions of Thailand. Our project focuses on Thailand for several reasons. Firstly, there are many rural Thai communities that rely on low-input agriculture.

Secondly, the country's tropical climate and topographical diversity are likely to harbour various legume and rhizobia species. Finally, thorough research on Thai legumes and their symbiotic partners is generally lacking.

Specifically, we aim to:

  • Collect and preserve nodule samples from wild legume populations.
  • Record sample site location and conduct a basic geological research (soil type, soil pH and average rainfall)
  • Cultivate soil bacteria from nodule samples
  • Characterise nodule bacteria by DNA sequencing
  • Re-infect host legumes to authenticate nodule bacteria
  • Infect other non-host legumes with isolated nodule bacteria
  • Assess the nitrogen-fixation efficiency of each legume-rhizobia partners

© Kasper De Bruyne