Understanding and Exploiting Biological Nitrogen Fixation for Improvement of Brazilian Agriculture

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Molecular Microbiology

Abstract

After water, available nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient for plant growth. Although the demand for fixed nitrogen can be met by the use of chemical fertilisers, their use in agriculture has resulted in major environmental and economic impacts. At present less than half of the nitrogen used by farmers is assimilated by crops. Excess nitrogen leaks into the environment, leading to significant effects on soil and water quality, biodiversity, and atmospheric pollution. However, some bacteria can perform a process known as biological nitrogen fixation, which converts nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into ammonia, a source of nitrogen that can be assimilated by animals and plants. This provides a more sustainable alternative to the use of synthetic fertilisers.

Although soil-dwelling nitrogen fixing bacteria can associate with food and energy crops, they do not readily release their fixed nitrogen for the benefit of the plant, although they can have beneficial effects on plant growth. In Brazil, significant increases in crop yield have been observed in response to inoculation with nitrogen fixing bacteria, some of which have an endophytic lifestyle and can gain access to intercellular spaces in plant roots and shoots. This provides an opportunity to engineer closer associations between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and food and energy crops, in which fixed nitrogen is delivered more effectively to the plant. This proposal for a Virtual Joint Centre (VJC) brings together a team of Brazilian and UK investigators focused towards understanding and exploiting plant-diazotroph interactions as a means to enhance agricultural productivity in Brazil. Using fundamental knowledge of nitrogen regulation in endophytic nitrogen fixing bacteria, we will engineer strains, which excrete ammonium to benefit crop growth, and examine the potential of these modified strains as inoculants. We will also design selection strategies to isolate associative diazotrophs that are competitive in the rhizosphere in relation to plant varieties that respond well and have a growth advantage in the presence of these endophytes. We will identify genes required for efficient plant-microbe interactions and quantitate the level of biological, nitrogen fixation in relation to crop yield. Finally, we will we examine the potential for the use of native and engineered strains as inoculants. To achieve these objectives, we will exploit strong synergies and world-leading expertise of UK and Brazilian researchers in biological nitrogen fixation, microbial population dynamics, bacterial and plant genetics, genomics and synthetic biology, in order to engineer efficient cultivar-endophyte combinations and develop improved inoculant technologies. Enhancing nitrogen fixation in our target crops promises substantial benefits for Brazilian agriculture, while decreasing the use and environmental impact of industrial nitrogen fertilisers.

Planned Impact

Application of chemical fertilisers has maintained high crop yields in many countries, but has resulted in severe perturbation of the global biogeochemical nitrogen cycle, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions and consequent acute damage to human health and ecosystem services. We are faced with the dilemma of reducing chemical nitrogen input into agriculture but at same time increasing yields to feed the growing world population and maintain global food security. Biological nitrogen fixation provides a more sustainable route to supply nitrogen to crops and as we propose here, can be exploited to enhance crop productivity while mitigating the consequences of reactive nitrogen release. This promises enormous benefit for humanity through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and development of sustainable agriculture. The impacts of this research will be global in the long term, benefiting not only academia, industry and the farming community, but also substantial socio-economic benefits on an international scale.

The academic sector will benefit in the short to medium term as the proposed research will provide publications, knowledge, expertise and materials of direct relevance to biological nitrogen fixation and agriculture on an international, multidisciplinary level.

We intend to communicate our research activities to a range of audiences including those in schools and cafe scientific environments to help raise the underlying issues and to illustrate biotechnological solutions to worldwide challenges to achieve a sustainable planet.

The farming community and the agro-industrial sector will benefit in the medium to long-term from the development of biofertiliser strains identified by the VJC, which will be validated in field trials and evaluated to control the quality and the development of new commercial inoculants, which will be disseminated to farmers and representatives of the biofertiliser industry in Brazil.

Tackling the nitrogen problem with sustainable biotechnological solutions such as those proposed here is likely to yield enormous economic, social and ecosystem impacts, through reduced costs of nitrogen inputs in agriculture together with the added benefit of decreased greenhouse gas emissions.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have made considerable progress on each of the work packages during the grant period. Diazotrophic bacteria of importance to Brazilian agriculture have been manipulated to excrete ammonia and a rhizopine biosensor has been designed to enable plant-inducible nitrogen fixation in Azospirillum brasilense. Novel endophyric diazotrophic bacteria have been isolated from canola and sorghum. Field trials have been initiated with maize and sugar cane to assess the influence of inoculation with diazotrophic bacteria on crop yield. We are also evaluating a recently isolated diazotrophic endophyte, Azoarcus olearius DQS-4, for plant growth promotion and the role of nitrogen fixation. Analysis of RNA-seq data on sugar cane, suggests that plant nitrogen metabolism is reprogrammed when beneficial plant-microbe associations are established.
Exploitation Route Strains engineered to excrete ammonium may provide substantial nitrogen to plants and when used as inoculants may provide a more sustainable alternative to the use of synthetic fertilisers
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixaiton in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description KESS2
Amount £52,885 (GBP)
Organisation Bangor University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowships
Amount £9,990 (GBP)
Funding ID R39GO1/CC8004/RFS008 
Organisation Bangor University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
Department Embrapa Agrobiologia
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation Federal University of Paraná
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation Federal University of Rio Grande
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Department Anthropology Department
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation State University of Norte Fluminense
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Social Sciences Division
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre 
Organisation University of Wales
Department Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK component of this partnership brings together four world-leading centres for plant and microbiological research, which are renowned for their expertise in biological nitrogen fixation. Collectively we have played crucial roles in uncovering fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation, understanding plant-microbe interactions and exploiting genomic sequencing technologies to probe the dynamics of gene expression in rhizosphere microbial communities.
Collaborator Contribution The five Brazilian partners collaborating in this virtual joint centre have excellent track records in pioneering the application of model species for the study of associative nitrogen fixation and characterizing the role of endophytic diazotrophs in promoting the growth of Gramineae (Poaceae) such as maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, Miscanthus and sugar cane. Work on applied aspects of associative diazotrophy in Brazil is strongly enhanced by the use of state-of-the art genomics and proteomics, supported by excellent bioinformatics to enable identification of important genes and proteins required for colonization and establishment of endophyte-plant interactions.
Impact We have used the Newton grant to promote and explain the sustainable development concept and the importance of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture to schools, colleges, and farmers in Brazil and the UK. The University of Parana have announced a public call to grant commercial rights to the biofertiliser industry to exploit some of the most efficient inoculant strains developed during the course of this project. This has the potential to translate our research findings to benefit crop productivity and hence enhance the environmental, social and economic potential of Brazil.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil May 26th to 29th, 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented a keynote talk entitled "Strategies to utilise biological nitrogen fixation to supply nitrogen to cereal crops". This talk emphasised that allthough the practice of applying chemical fertilisers to increase crop yields has had an enormous impact on world agriculture it has resulted in severe agronomic and environmental penalties, including eutrophication of aquatic systems and atmospheric pollution. In order to circumvent this nitrogen conundrum, it has been proposed that biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) could be exploited to provide a more sustainable alternative to the use of nitrogen fertilisers in agriculture. I outlined two potential approaches to circumvent this conundrum: firstly, the engineering of diazotrophic bacteria that can excrete ammonia as a nitrogen source for plants and secondly, the direct engineering of the nitrogen-fixing enzyme, nitrogenase into cereals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Annual UBNFC Meeting 
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 The annual UBNFC meeting is an opportunity for the scientists within the UK and Brazil partnership to meet and formally discuss progress within their research. The two day meeting (held in Brazil, 2016/17/18) has worked successfully using a format of individual PL talks, breakout sessions to discuss specific work packages and an administrative and engagement session. In addition to faculty members, attendees have included post-doctoral researchers who have also been given the chance to talk about their involvement in the research. The annual meeting is an essential event to determine the future direction of the research and provides an opportunity for direct communication between the two international partners and renewed emphasis on areas that require additional input.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
URL http://ubnfc.org/?page_id=74
 
Description Attending UBNFC Annual Meeting in Brazil, Nov 2017 
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 Meeting of all collaborators on an international project or annual meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Engagement in Brazil. A Partnership between the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology (LBMP) at IBqM/UFRJ, Laboratory Nano at School of Fine Arts (EBA) at UFRJ and the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro (JBRJ). "Plant-Environment Sensory Interactions: multiplicity of forms and themes (Interaction, Diversity, Sustainability and Art)" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This activity involves the creation of scientific and artistic installations with which the public interact, representing signaling of plants with their environment through a multiplicity of themes : Interaction, Diversity, Sustainability and Culture. The themes of the scientific and artistic installations are:

- "Plant diversity and conservation": aims to address questions about DNA and plant molecular diversity, evolution and the importance of conserving plants for the maintenance of life. In addition to the diversity of native plant species, the project extends the theme to species used in agriculture, such as maize and sugarcane. The activities explore the association of these plants with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, to bring the public closer to economically important species and to a larger discussion of the negative influences of real world agricultural practices on the environment and possible alternative technologies for a sustainable agriculture.

- "Plant body in motion": aims to present the various ways in which the body of the plant interacts with environmental factors such as water, light, nutrients and microorganisms, addressing the effects of this signalling on plant growth. The relationship with plant productivity and sustainability is also explained.

- "Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) and sustainability", where it is intended to show that there are "good bacteria", how they talk to plants and the importance of BNF in sustainability and food production. The final objective of all the activities developed is to build new ideas, reflections and discussions, through direct interaction with students, teachers and the general public, which lead to promotion of behavioral change and attitudes towards environmental issues, aiming at the conservation of natural resources and sustainable use.

During 2018, this project was taken to schools, museums and science fairs, where the audience was the general public, in addition to school teachers and students that were directly invited to attend. We estimate that in 2018 the project reached around 500-600 people. The activities were developed within the theme of the Brazilian National Science and Technology Week of 2018: "Science for reducing inequalities". Installations were developed to demonstrate biotechnologies being established at the LBMP/UFRJ involving "Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) and sustainability", where our group demonstrated that there are "good bacteria", how they interact with plants and the importance of BNF in sustainability and food production.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
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 Joint meeting of the UBNFC and NUCLEUS Virtual Joint Centres 
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 In the first meeting of its kind 24 leading experts from the UK and Brazil came together to find practical, low cost solutions that make more effective use of nitrogen (N) in agriculture, while attempting to decrease N pollution losses to the environment either to the atmosphere or through the soil.
UBNFC led by Ray Dixon, Professor of Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre and NUCLEUS led by Sacha Mooney, Professor of Soil Physics in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham focus on improving nitrogen use efficiency from both the agronomic and biological perspectives.The meeting revealed the overlapping goals of the two research centres and identified several opportunities for collaboration that will develop the scientific and practical outcomes for the benefit of Brazilian and UK agriculture.
Professor Dixon said: "We are very grateful to the BBSRC for supporting this meeting to explore synergies between the two UK-Brazil virtual joint centres on agricultural nitrogen. The outcome of our discussions has uncovered exciting new opportunities to mitigate the impact of nitrogen fertilisers on the environment and increase agricultural productivity in Brazil through enhanced use of biological nitrogen fixation and improved agronomic practices."
Professor Mooney said: "While our two centres are following different approaches, the potential synergies are clear. In NUCLEUS we have shown that combinations of natural soil amendments and leguminous trees planted between crops have the capacity to provide similar quantities of nitrogen to that from artificial fertilizers. For important non-leguminous crops like maize and rice, UBNFC are isolating second generation bacterial inoculants that have great potential for supplying fixed N to plants when added to soil - although this is yet to be tested in the field."
"We have developed new plans to exchange ideas and scientists in the coming year to test this combination of approaches. We are all really excited by the potential this offers."
Explaining the problem of managing nitrogen in Brazil, Professor Ciro Rosolem from São Paulo State University said: "Most tropical, weathered soils have low mineral N, and the introduction of legumes in crop rotation is one way to naturally increase soil N. However, heavy rainfall on fragile, tropical soils can lead to significant losses of N by leaching through the soil. The NUCLEUS project is seeking to understand which crop species are best at scavenging N from deeper in the soil and recycle it for the next crop, thus reducing the need for fertilizer inputs and improving nitrogen use efficiency".
UBNFC is pioneering an alternative approach - biological nitrogen fixation (BNF). Professor Emanuel de Souza from the Federal University of Paraná said: "We are using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed N. We believe this approach also has the potential to significantly reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ubnfc.org/?page_id=74
 
Description Keynote lecture at XVI Symposium on Biological Nitrogen Fixation with Non-Legumes, Foz do Igaucu, Brazil 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture related to education of postgraduate students and Brazilian faculty related to innovations in plant growth promoting bacteria
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Microbial innoculant technology workshop (RELARE) 30-31st August 2018 Foz do Iguacu, Parana, Brazil 
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 The workshop of the laboratory network for recommendation, standardization and diffusion of microbial inoculant technology for agricultural interest (RELARE) was created in the early 1980s with representatives from research institutions, inoculant industries and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) in Brazil. The role of RELARE is historic and decisive for the establishment of legislation on microbial inoculants in the country as well as the protocols contained in normative instructions for inoculants. In addition, RELARE represents the most important forum in Brazil for the discussion of new inoculant products and technologies, guaranteeing the safe and beneficial use of microorganisms in Brazilian agriculture and influencing other countries in South America. The workshop had the objective of bringing together researchers and producers/importers of microbial inoculants of agricultural interest in Brazil in a forum where the main advances and current problems related to their uses for farmers could be discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description NUCLEUS UBNFC (VJC meeting) 
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 A joint meeting of two VJCs who are working in UK and Brazil, held in Brazil, Nov 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://rhizosphere.org/lab-news/
 
Description Nitrogen Network Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Marcelo Batista presented his work to colleagues at the Nitrogen Network Workshop in Oxford (July 2017). His presentation was entitled "Regulated excretion of ammonia by NifA variants in Proteobacteria". This work adds to the collective knowledge of this group of researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
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 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 Science Engagement at St. Michaels Junior School, Norwich (08/06/2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact During a science week at St. Michael's Junior School a team member was invited to speak to three classes about 'What is a scientist?'. The classes consisted of ~30 year 4 children (aged 8/9 years). The talk was based around images on a powerpoint but was largely unscripted so that the children felt able to ask questions and spark discussion. The children were introduced to the idea that there are different types of scientists, investigating all areas of the biology, chemistry and physics. This progressed onto the career of a scientist and how scientists share their knowledge locally and internationally which naturally led to speaking about how the UBNFC's work is beneficial to sustainable agriculture, economy and the environment. The clear outcome was that it gave the children an opportunity to think about science as an interesting subject to learn more about and that a science related career was accessible option to all.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ubnfc.org/?page_id=74
 
Description Science Media Training for group member (Training course organised by the BBSRC, training carried out by members of the BBC) 
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 Member attended an official BBSRC Media Training course for scientists. This one-day course gave background on how interviews are conducted on TV and Radio. Techniques for answering questions were given and excellent practical sessions were included. The course is designed to prepare scientists in the event that the research attracting media attention.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Science Week - Engagement at Bignold Junior School, Norwich 15/03/18 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Janine Wilkinson from our team was invited to talk to the children attending the Bignold Junior School in Norwich during their Science Week. Two classes of year 5 (9/10 years) were involved. The children were introduced to what skills make a good scientist, the many different types of scientists that there are as well as discussing the fact that scientists can work with each other not just in the same laboratory but globally (in the way that UK and Brazilian scientists work together). As well as the discussion, children also used the available light microscopes to look at plant cells. Both groups of children were highly engaged, interested and asked many questions. Feedback from the teachers was very positive and it was remarked that many of the children spoke about what type of scientist they would like to be when they are older after the workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Science, Art and Writing workshop for West Earlham Junior School, Norwich (10/10/17) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact As part of the impact activities of the UBNFC, we liaised with the SAW initiative to provide a one-day practical workshop for year 4 children at a local school. SAW provided an artist and a writer who used their skills to highlight and enhance the scientific concepts given to the children. We began with a simple talk explaining the science concepts behind the practical activities; what bacteria are and the importance of nitrogen to living organisms. This talk also included a brief mention of the international nature of science, exemplified by our UK-Brazil virtual joint centre; with researchers working together on a single project but being physically located in different parts of the world. The children worked their way through three key practicals including making soil plates (so they could study the bacterial growth post workshop), using junior microscopes to investigate root nodules and pre-grown bacterial colonies and playing an educational game teaching them about symbiosis. The science principles learnt in the morning were then applied in the art and writing sessions in the afternoon. The workshop provided a legacy for the teachers to build on provided by information on the day and the bacterial cultures that developed on the agar plates in the following weeks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://ubnfc.org/?page_id=74
 
Description Talk given by Marcelo Batista at the Third Annual Meeting of the UK Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Marcelo gave a talk at this internaitonal meeting which provided education to postgraduate students and stimulated disucssion on future collaborative activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description UBNFC Annual Meeting in Brazil (Marta Mendes) 
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 Marta attended and gave a talk at the annual meeting of the international project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ubnfc.org
 
Description UBNFC Information Leaflet 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A full colour and professionally printed information leaflet has been produced. The leaflet contains information about our research background, aims and outcomes as well as contact information. The purpose of the leaflet is to promote the work carried out by our network to colleagues, general public and schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018