Biomass Depolymerization projects
Ecology and Exploitation of Endophytic Diazotrophic Bacteria in Biofuel Crops - Completed
This project investigated the contribution of nitrogen-fixing endophytes to bioenergy crops and designed strategies to promote colonization of N2-fixing endophytes through selection of favorable host/environment combinations, and through development of endophyte populations with traits that enhance sustainability of biofuel crops.
Kent’s group used multiple lines of experimental evidence to demonstrate nitrogen fixation in field-grown Miscanthus x giganteus and identified the microbes responsible. Moreover, 15N isotope studies demonstrated that 16% of the nitrogen acquired by the plants was via biological nitrogen fixation. Quantitative PCR confirmed the presence of nitrogenase genes in endophytic bacteria, and Kent’s team demonstrated that Miscanthus harbors a greater proportion of endophytes capable of N fixation than switchgrass. Researchers also demonstrated that Miscanthus-associated diazotrophs exhibit biogeographical patterns in both native and cultivated Miscanthus: native Miscanthus has more diverse endophyte populations than Mxg planted in Illinois. Additional data analysis has suggested a number of soil factors responsible for shaping Miscanthus-associated diazotrophs.