Engineering the Sym pathway of cereals for recognition of nitrogen fixing bacteria

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


We will initiate the first steps towards the transfer of biological nitrogen fixation to cereals, through engineering nodulation signalling. This represents a complex problem. However, the knowledge gained in legumes reveals that much of the machinery necessary for nodulation signalling are present in cereals. In this proposal we will attempt to engineer the symbiosis (Sym) signalling pathway of cereals to allow recognition of rhizobial bacteria and initiation of nodule organogenesis. The tools generated in legumes, in particular the gain of function mutations, allows the isolated study of the component parts of these signalling processes: Nod factor activation of calcium oscillations, calcium activation of gene expression and cytokinin induction of cell division. This work will allow us to assess what the minimal requirements are for Nod factor induction of the Sym pathway and whether Sym pathway engineering is sufficient for nodule organogenesis. The objectives of the proposal are:
1.Define the innate capability of cereals to perceive lipo-chito oligosaccharides.
2.Engineer cereals for the perception of Nod factor. 3.Engineer cereals for CCaMK induced nodulation gene expression. 4.Engineer cereals for cytokinin activation of nodule organogenesis.


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Description This research has provided the foundational knowledge required to engineer cereals with nitrogen fixation.
Exploitation Route This is a feasibility project. In this programme we identified the key components we needed to engineer to achieve nitrogen-fixing cereals. The programme of research has been renewed for a further 5 years with additional funding provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

Description Engineering Nitrogen symbiosis for Africa
Amount $31,782,488 (USD)
Funding ID OPP1172165 
Organisation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 11/2017 
End 03/2024