Microbial Resilience

Soybeans are a major crop in South Dakota and the U.S. and are widely used for food, feed and fuel. Soybean and other bean-family of plants house soil bacteria (called rhizobia) can convert atmospheric nitrogen into plant-usable forms (called nitrogen fixation) in their root nodules.

Biological nitrogen fixation helps reduce the need for expensive and environmentally damaging chemical nitrogen fertilizers. Therefore, soybean producers use rhizobia strains that are highly efficient in nitrogen fixation as seed inoculants. However, a major issue is the competition between the inoculant rhizobia and poorly efficient nitrogen fixing rhizobia present in soils for root attachment and nodule occupancy.

Thrust Area-2 of the 2D BEST Center will develop infrastructure and expertise to evaluate competition between rhizobia for root colonization and utilize 2D materials to enable preferential attachment and increased nodule occupancy by high efficiency rhizobia. The group envisions enhanced nitrogen fixation capacity and reduction of reliance on chemical nitrogen fertilizers.