Discovery of the Systemic Regulator of Legume Nodulation (2013–2015)
Legume plants form root nodules that house nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria. This gives legumes a competitive advantage as nitrogen is essential for growth. The plant controls the number of nodules it forms via a systemic regulatory process involving root-to-shoot-to-root signalling. The aim of this project is to discover the novel plant factor produced in the shoot that is transported to the root to inhibit nodule formation. Findings will enhance the current nodulation model and could help underpin strategies to optimise the process in agriculture. This would considerably benefit agricultural sustainability by reducing our reliance on nitrogen fertilisers, which are expensive and often pollute.