Lincoln researchers get funding

by Anonymous Author

Lincoln researchers have been awarded $8.2million in funding to attempt to find revolutionary ways of using naturally-occurring bacteria and fungi to increase the availability of nitrogen to plants and improve plants’ tolerance to stress.

The study will be undertaken by Lincoln Agritech, which is an independent multidisciplinary research and development company owned by Lincoln University. Biotechnology team manager Dr Richard Weld who is leading the research, said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has awarded the programmes a combined $8.2m. “This is a noteable achievement for a small organisation.”

Dr Weld said the first of the two projects will benefit the forestry and pastoral sectors by allowing pine trees and grasses to convert atmospheric nitrogen into plant-available mineral nitrogen in the same way that legumes such as clover do, and by improving the plants’ tolerance to stress.

He said this can be achieved by optimising the natural microbial communities associated with the plants, thereby creating new symbioses between plants, bacteria and fungi.

“After this, the fungal-bacterial hybrids can be introduced to pine trees and perennial ryegrass. The combination will make the plants more resistant to stress and more able take up nitrogen.” Dr Weld said the five-year programme is world-leading as no other researchers have attempted a triple symbiosis between fungi, bacteria and these plants.