Endophytes–bacteria or fungi that colonize the interior healthy plant tissue–can also fix nitrogen, making them of interest for applications in sustainable agriculture and biofuel production. Previous studies suggest that native Pinus, Populusand Salix species host nitrogen-fixing endophytes above the ground rather than solely in the rhizosphere, and that these symbionts can be used to improve growth in grasses and agricultural crops under nutrient-limited conditions. The team is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in interactions between native plants and nitrogen-fixing endophytes. Among the long-term goals are the development of nitrogen-efficient plants and the identification of natural product pathways that that contribute to plant-microbial interactions and that can be of use in bioenergy development.
Proposer’s Name: A. Carolin Frank, University of California, Merced