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Improving Forage and Bioenergy Crops for Better Adaptation, Resilience, and Flexibility

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Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Klaus
Nüsslein
Department of Project: 
Department of Microbiology
Project Description: 

As the global human population continues to grow and climate change alters weather patterns and intensifies stress on agricultural systems, we need to find new ways to sustainably increase production agriculture. We focus on grasslands because they are important for global food stability and as a vast ecosystem (66% of agricultural areas are grass lands) have serious global climate implications. We believe that a targeted enhancement of the microorganisms on forage grass leaves will help us promote agricultural production in the face of climate stress, and allow for a more stress-resistant and increased pasture production. This would also reduce the need for further land conversions from intact ecosystems to more agricultural areas. To achieve this, we first must better understand how bacteria on grass leaves promote plant growth. This study will identify the role grass leaf bacteria play in promoting plant growth. This bacterial support can be provided either by making the grass plants more resistant to longer drought periods or by supporting the grasses with nitrogen fertilizer from the surrounding air. Understanding the roles of the bacterial communities on pasture grass leaves on the health of their plant hosts will leverage these bacteria to promote sustainable farming and increase the production resiliency of forage grass production.

Agriculture topics: 
Forage and Grazing