Our main objective is to collect nodules from wild legumes growing in two regions of Thailand. As root nodules harbour nitrogen-fixing bacteria, what we will essentially be doing is collecting different kinds of bacteria to assess their nitrogen-fixing ability on various legume plants.
Using the root nodules we've obtained, we will be extracting bacterial DNA at a laboratory in Ghent, Belgium. DNA will then be sequenced to allow us to pinpoint the bacterial species. Once bacteria are successfully obtained and sequenced, they will be tested on several species of legumes to assess whether they can induce nodulation on the roots of several types of legumes.
The symbiotic relationship between legumes and their root bacteria is specific. That means that not all legumes will form a symbiotic relationship with a given bacteria type. Also, some bacteria are 'better' at fixing nitrogen than others, so we need to identify their efficient bacteria and test them on several different legume species to maximise the nitrogen-fixing efficiency of each partner.
We want to incorporate legume-bacteria partners that are most efficient at nitrogen fixation to agricultural systems. Our work focuses on improving small-scale, low productivity farming systems in the tropics to help less-priviledged communities that can not afford costly agricultural inputs. By incorporating efficient Biological Nitrogen Fixation in farming systems, soil health and fertility can improve rapidly making farming systems significantly more productive and highly sustainable.