2018 Playford Trust Honours Scholarship
Every year the agricultural industry applies close to 100 million tonnes of nitrogen fertilisers to cropping systems, this comes with high costs and is a major source of pollution.
However, legumes such as chickpea and soybean have a symbiotic relationship with a soil bacterium allowing them to acquire their nitrogen requirements from the air we breathe.
I am extremely interested by this interaction and how legumes are able to exchange photosynthetic carbon with the nitrogen captured by the bacteria.
My research has focused on the transport proteins that facilitate this exchange, while the process is well understood the specific proteins involved have not been found.
During my candidature I have been able to identify a number of these proteins which provide novel targets for enhancement of nitrogen fixation. This research is fundamental in the sustainable agricultural model, as a society we need to meet our current food requirements without compromising the ability of future generations.
For this to be achievable, we must limit out reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and instead enhance the naturally occurring processes.
During my PhD candidature I have had the opportunity to present my research at several national conferences where I have been able to grow my network and improve my career outlook. Many of these opportunities would not have been finically possible without the support of the Playford Trust.