an alder trees root nodule
Original Published Date: 
Friday, November 30, 2018

A new Australian Research Council Discovery Project led by Dr Eloise Foo at the University of Tasmania is receiving $322,000 to build a model of the signals that regulate the formation of root nodules—unique organs which have a vital role in extracting nitrogen from the soil.

Nitrogen is often limited in the soil, and farmers rely on artificial fertilisers to improve a soil’s nitrogen content for agriculture, but this can have adverse environmental consequences. Some plants, however, (mostly legumes) can form root nodules that host nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Sustainable sources of plant nutrients are increasingly required to ensure food security and minimise the environmental impact of intensive farming, and this project will provide fundamental information on why some species can form nitrogen-fixing nodules by examining the role of plant hormones. The researchers will build a knowledge base to potentially expand this symbiosis into non-legumes, harnessing the huge advantage nodule forming species have in staple crops.