Sophie Clowez's Abstract


Title:​ Improving world legume production yields while decreasing the use of nitrogen fertilizers.

Description of the project:
The initial discovery of LOV domain in light-responsive proteins led to the hypothesis that light activation of LOV-protein-containing Rhizobium Leguminosarum bacterium will increase nodulation in legume crops, thereby increasing nitrogen assimilation and subsequently legume yield. We counted the presence of white and pink (functional) nodules, for each condition on the roots of the plants (light-treated and untreated Rhizobium and no Rhizobium inoculated). Pink color in nodules is acquired by leghaemoglobin, which buffers the concentration of free oxygen to facilitate nodule function. This should improve production in legume crops. This hypothesis was previously tested in the greenhouse with fava beans and now is being preformed on pea beans. The first trials of pea bean plants, in the greenhouse, are already showing visibly distinct phenotypes (loss of chlorophyll, senescence) and impressive results with a 51% increase in the total peas harvested from light-activated Rhizobium plants, in comparison with dark-grown Rhizobium plants.

The proposed project includes the repetition of the trial in pea beans, both in the greenhouse and the performance of the first field test on Cabrillo Farm, to test the potential of this technology on a commercial farm. The project proposed here, will give the opportunity to the potential candidate to learn (i) how to organize basic planning, by taking care of plants (germination, watering), (ii) how to collect and report essential data for the project (nodules on roots, length, flowers, pods), (iii) provide knowledge on bacteria (growth and inoculation). Also, depending of the background level, the potential candidate will have the opportunity to gain new insights as study of the molecular level, measuring photosynthetic capacity, chlorophyll content, etc.

The potential candidate will also interact with Rajnish Khanna and Roberto Bogomolni, who are a part of the project and will help to supervise the internship.

Additional information:

Seminars for each Friday will have to be attended and a poster will have to be presented at the end of the internship.  
Location: 260 Panama street, Stanford University, California, USA
Start date: TBD (May 28th or June 10th)
Program will last about 6-8 weeks

Mentor: PhD Sophie Clowez (Currently Post-doctoral student at Carnegie Institute)