India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Plant Sciences

Abstract

Nitrogen is an essential element of biological molecules and life on earth. Lack of usable nitrogen limits growth of microbes, plants, and animals. Lack of nitrogen in agricultural soils limits plant production of food, feed, fibre and fuel. Nature solved the nitrogen limitation problem via evolution of biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) in diazotrophic bacteria that reduce atmospheric N2 to NH3, which is readily assimilated into biological molecules. Biological nitrogen fixation is catalyzed by a complex metalloenzyme called nitrogenase whose oxygen-sensitivity may explain its restricted distribution amongst prokaryotes. Some plants, including most legumes and a few non-legumes form intimate, nitrogen-fixing symbioses with diazotrophs that provide the plants with ammonia. As a consequence, legumes have been an integral part of sustainable agricultural systems for thousands of years. However, in an effort to increase plant yields large-scale use of industrially-produced N-fertilizer has doubled the influx of N into the terrestrial biogeochemical N-cycle, with serious negative consequences for human health and the natural environment. Therefore, the long-term sustainability of massive N-fertilizer inputs in agriculture has come into question. A team of eight investigators in India and two in the UK have come together to enhance the use of legumes, increase their effectiveness at fixing nitrogen and develop endophytic diazotrophs for use on cereals such as rice. Our focus is on pigeon pea, which is the second most widely planted legume in India but suffers from poor rates of BNF and low yields. We will select elite lines of pigeon pea and competitive rhizobial inoculants to maximise yields while improving their robustness. In addition we will develop phosphate solubilising strains of rhizobia as the supply of phosphorous often limits the rates on BNF and plant yield. Desirable traits for BNF and phosphate solubilisation will then be stacked into rhizobial inocula. A final long-term aim is the transfer of BNF to cereals, particularly rice, by the use of endophytic diazoptophs that can be inoculated onto cereals. This will be done both by selection of new endophytic diazotrophs and by manipulation of the control of BNF and ammonia secretion in elite strains. To achieve these aims we bring together the national leaders in India and the UK with expertise in bacterial and plant genetics, genomics, biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, physiology, synthetic biology combined with a deep knowledge of BNF in Indian soils and different regions. Improving BNF in our target plants will increase croyields for resource-poor farmers while decreasing the use and environmental-impact of industrial N-fertilizers.

Planned Impact

This research project entails fundamental studies of the mechanisms involved in biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), but its enormous relevance to the economic wellbeing of Indian farmers is reflected in the research team and their close interactions with large-scale projects across India. The team intends to pursue activities with potential to lead to; 1) economic impact through education and access to selected plant lines/bacterial inoculants for small-scale and family farmers in India. Further economic impact will be achieved through the education of young scientists, potentially as future leaders in the field of sustainable development. 2) social impact through outreach and education. The importance of translating the research findings on BNF into changing agricultural practices in India will be enhanced by public engagement by project participants in the global issue of sustainable development. IUNFC's Indian team have well-established collaborative links with Indian farmers. This ensures a good appreciation of how new products and services would be taken up and applied in agricultural practice in India. Dr DLN Rao (Indian Lead) has coordinated ICAR's 'All India Coordinated Project on Biological Nitrogen Fixation' and now its successor 'All India Network Project on Soil Biodiversity-Biofertilizers' at 20 centres all over India. Following isolation and characterization of the best rhizobia and plant growth-promoting bacteria for all crops, over last 15 years the following have been successfully used to spread awareness of inoculants usage. IUNFCs Indian team have established contacts in the inoculant industry, which may provide routes to market and development of products arising from the research project. As the project progresses, the outputs will be assessed for intellectual property protection, in conjunction with the knowledge transfer team from each of the eight institutions involved (six in India, two in UK). We will use the expertise of all the institutions, e.g. ISIS Innovation Ltd. at University of Oxford, who will support the team in pursuing further relationships with industry for commercialisation of new technologies. These earlier contacts will be leveraged, together with identification of other appropriate commercial partners. Industry contacts will be pursued from companies in attendance at subject-area conferences, at a time when the team are presenting results from their studies. Furthermore, Prof Poole, Prof Ray Dixon and other members of the UK team engaged in the project intend to continue to develop their media relations and communications skills via training, to help them in broad dissemination and public engagement relating to the research area and specific project outputs.

Publications

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Poole P (2017) Shining a light on the dark world of plant root-microbe interactions. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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Poole P (2018) Rhizobia: from saprophytes to endosymbionts. in Nature reviews. Microbiology

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Sánchez-Cañizares C (2017) Understanding the holobiont: the interdependence of plants and their microbiome. in Current opinion in microbiology

 
Description We are only part-way thorough this project but have made excellent progress on collection of samples of nitrogen-fixing bacteria from geographical areas of India: alluvial soils (Inceptisols) of Indo-gangetic plains, black soils (Vertisols) of central India and red soils (Alfisols) of peninsular India. As pigeon pea is one of the most important crops in drylands in India, but suffers from inconsistent yields and poor nodulation by ineffective rhizobia, these bacteria will be assessed to select the best rhizobial inoculants together with optimal plant lines to increase plant growth and grain yield for use in the drought-stressed soils. In addition, work is progressing on enhancing plant growth and nitrogen fixation by engineering rhizobia to solubilise phosphate. The third aim on which initial work has been carried out, is to characterise diazotrophic rice endophytes and their mechanism of infection.
Exploitation Route Once this project has matured we aim to have characterised the best plant and bacterial combinations for the three different types of Indian soils. These will be made available to farmers in India through our partner Labs (ICAR-IISS, University of Calcutta, ICAR-IISS, MS University of Baroda, University of Hyderabad, ICAR-IARI, TERI, ICAR- NBAIM), who have links with these communities. In addition, we will have established stains which are able to solubilise phosphate and promote plant growth. These strains acting as plant inoculants will be good for the environment as they remove the need for expensive, and potentially environmentally damaging, nitrogenous fertilisers.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL https://iunfc.org
 
Description Role of the SYM pathway in selecting the root microbiota
Amount £607,262 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R017859/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2021
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation Indian Council of Agricultural Research
Department ICAR - Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
Country India 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation Indian Council of Agricultural Research
Department ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science
Country India 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation John Innes Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
Department Department of Bio-Chemistry
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation The Energy and Resources Institute
Country India 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation University of Calcutta
Department Department of BioChemistry
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description India and nitrogen fixation 
Organisation University of Hyderabad
Department Department of Plant Sciences
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have developed high-throughput community analysis to characterise the microbiome of the rhizosphere and endosphere of plants. Using the latest techniques in synthetic biology I have developed high-throughput screening techniques to assess rhizobial competitiveness and ability to fix nitrogen. We have developed biosensor reporter technology linked to Lux imaging of whole roots to assess root secretion and its impact on microbial colonization and nitrogen fixation.
Collaborator Contribution University of Hyderabad- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh- experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea. Also experience in metagenomic diversity of rhizospheric microbes of major crops. M.S.University of Baroda,Vadodara, Gujarat - experience with different Indian soils and agricultural expertise of growth of pigeon pea ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi - interaction with India subsistence farmers and legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under salt and nitrate stress. Also expertise on coordinating microbiological trials in different agroclimatic zones in India. University of Calcutta - expertise in nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in Arachis hypogaea. The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi - bioengineering of rice for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. John Innes Centre - world-leading expertise in the molecular biology of nitrogen fixation and biochemical characterisation of its transcriptional control. James Hutton Institute - specialised in nitrogen fixation by legumes and non-legumes, particularly those from the tropics. Techniques include high-resolution microscopy (light and EM) and 15N-based methods, which in combination have been used to confirm the effectiveness of many novel nitrogen-fixing plant-bacterial interactions Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD)-(inter-disciplinary) expertise on Indian life, cultural and practices from the aspect of sustainable development. Examining the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems, especially in the Indian food system.
Impact A successful application was made to BBSRC-DBT as part of the Newton initiative by this group, led by Prof. Philip Poole. We have set up a VJC - the India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) which was funded from Jan 1st 2016 in UK. This funding is likely to lead to many outputs, and as this collaboration is multi-disciplinary, in many areas, however as the project has only just begun, these are yet to be realised.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Back2Roots Advisor, annual project meeting. Jan 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International advisor to the Back2Roots research programme in the Netherlands
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Bacterial World Exhibition - involvement in preparing exhibits and organisation of exhibition (Marcela Mendoza-Suarez, Beatriz Jorrin) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Large exhibition - very visual. Involvement in preparing some of the exhibits and in the general organisation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/bacterialworld/
 
Description Bacterial World, Natural History Museum, Oxford, Dec 2018 (Phil Poole) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Phil gave a talk to school children on an open day at the museum as part of the Bacterial World exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/bacterialworld/
 
Description Bring and share pulse lunch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Bring and share pulse lunch to celebrate world pulse day 18th Jan 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural Nitrogen Science in India- Joint Workshop of the of India-UK Nitrogen Virtual Centres, New Delhi, 3rd-5th Oct 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact As this was a joint workshop of the of India-UK Nitrogen Virtual Centres, all the project leaders from UK and Indian projects funded by Newton initiative were present. It was an opportunity to discuss the approaches of the different VJCs and present key findings for our project to the others.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.niab.com/pages/id/459/News_and_Activities
 
Description ENFC, Budapest posters and talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An international conference. Group members presented posters and gave talks to approx. 500 scientists
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description European Nitrogen Fixation Conference, Stockholm Sweden, Aug 2018 (Andrzej Tkacz, Marcela Mendoza-Suarez) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Speakers at a large international conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Facebook LIVE video by Oxford Sparks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Oxford Sparks FacebookLIVE podcast on nitrogen and the importance of nitrogen-fixing legumes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.facebook.com/OxSparks/videos/1210777428999882/
 
Description FacebookLIVE - the future of food 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Facebook LIVE podcast in association with Oxford Sparks (latest 6.6k views)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.facebook.com/OxSparks/videos/1210777428999882/
 
Description Global Pulse Day lunch, 18th Jan 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Bring and share' lunch to publicise the use of pulses in cooking, their environmental importance and aspects of food security
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day
 
Description Graduate School Speaker, Lunteren, The Netherlands, April 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Graduate School Speaker, Lunteren, The Netherlands, April 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description IUNFC Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact IUNFC Annul Meeting for all collaborators on the project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description IUNFC Annual Meeting held at NBAIM, Mau, India, 13-14th Nov 2018 (Vinoy Ramachandran, Alison East, Phil Poole, Beatriz Jorrin, Andrzej Tkacz) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact IUNFC Annual Meeting for this UK-India project involved all project leaders from India and all researchers from UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://iunfc.org
 
Description IUNFC quarterly on-line newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact IUNFC quarterly newsletter, on-line to IUNFC project participants
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Imperial College seminar June 2018 (Beatriz Jorrin) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Imperial College seminar June 2018 (Beatriz Jorrin) Ecology and Evolution Seminar Series
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description JIC 50 Open day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Open Day to celebrate 50 years of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, where we exhibited a stand to show isolation of microbes from soil and their influence on plant growth.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Microbiota studies - satellite meeting of European Nitrogen Fixation Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, Aug 2018 (Andrzej Tkacz, Rachel Wheatley, Vinoy Ramachandran, Marcela Mendoza-Suarez, Tim Haskett, Phil Poole) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talks were given by all those listed to the audience of scientists from all over the world.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Organised Nitrogen Network Meeting, July 2018 (Alison East) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact One-day national meeting with an international key-note speaker organised in Oxford.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://synthsym.org/nitrogen-network/
 
Description Organised Nitrogen Network Workshop, June 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Nitrogen Network wa a one-day meeting for researchers interested in common themes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Organised OxBacNet meeting - Feb 2018 (Alison East) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact University of Oxford, Bacteriology Symposium and Network meeting. Held three times a year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/oxbacnet/
 
Description Organised and run OxBacNet symposia, May 2018, Oct 2018, Feb 2019 (Alison East) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An afternoon networking activity and series of talks held once a term. Links all of Oxford's bacteriologists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/oxbacnet/
 
Description OxBacNet seminar - Feb 2019 (Beatriz Jorrin) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Beatriz gave a seminar at this networking and seminar series held termly.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Oxford Botanic Gardens Seminar Series, Nov 2018 (Phil Poole) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Evening seminar to interested members of general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Poster at 2nd Plant Microbiome Conference, Amsterdam, Feb 2018 (Andrzej Tkacz) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster displayed at this conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Posters at ICNF, Granada, Spain, Sept. 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact International conference. 11 posters from Lab. 2 short presentations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Research Seminar, Lisbon, March 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Research Seminar, Lisbon, March 2017 at II Semana Bioengenharia, Instuto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description SRUK-Oxford seminar 1st March 2018 (Bea triz Jorrin) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talk on research to Spanish society - audience non-specialist.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Selection as divisional (MPLS, University of Oxford) BAME role model for school children (Vinoy Ramanchandran) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Vinoy was selected as the divisional BAME role model. He wrote a short piece about being a scientist and the research he carries out. School children were asked to create an artwork based on his research. He inspired the winner of one of the age categories.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Seminar, University of Southampton, Feb 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar, Crop Systems Engineering Seminar Series, University of Southampton, Feb 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Society for Applied Biology in Edinburgh, Jul 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talk to conference audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Talk at Nitrogen Network one-day meeting in Oxford, July 2018 (Rachel Wheatley, Euan James, Jack Parsons, Kyle Grant) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talks were presented to audience of scientists in UK studying similar organisms and related subject areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://synthsym.org/nitrogen-network/
 
Description Talk at OxBacNet symposium, Feb 2018 (Vinoy Ramachandran) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Spoke at an University of Oxford networking symposium
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/oxbacnet/
 
Description Talk to the Mexican Society, Jan 2019 (Marcela Mendoza-Suarez) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Talk to the non-specialised audience of the Mexican Society involved speaking in non-scientific language in order to make the explanations clear.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Thatcher Development Programme's Foundation Day Panel Discussion, 'Climate Change: Approaches and Innovations for the Future' - Feb 208 (Phil Poole) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Broad-ranging panel discussion with students from different disciplines held at Somerville College, Oxford.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Twitter account IUNFC @IUNFC_tweets 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Twitter account to publicise the work of IUNFC. Aiming to spread information across both countries, UK and India, in this VJC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://twitter.com
 
Description University of York, Dept. of Biology invited seminar- Feb 2018 (Phil Poole) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar and active discussion with members of Dept. of Biology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description VI Annual Meeting of the Plant Genetic and Biotechnology Network, Graduate School, Italy, June 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact VI Annual Meeting of the Plant Genetic and Biotechnology Network, Graduate School, Italy, June 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Website for IUNFC project (IUNFC.org) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact IUNFC website publicises the project and the work carried out by this VJC, spread over eleven labs in two continents. Scientists working on this project and the outreach and other activities are described.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019
URL https://IUNFC.org