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Utah State University Faculty Honor Lectures


The Faculty Association, Utah State University

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About ten years ago, I began looking for a research problem in the field of plant-microbe interactions. As the name implies, this is the study of how plants and microorganisms associate-either for their mutual benefit or at the expense of one partner. An example is symbiotic nitrogen fixation between leguminous plants and root-colonizing bacteria. Both benefit-the plant gains nitrogen in a useful form and the bacteria gain nutrients and protection. A better understanding of a plant-microbe interaction system could be used to benefit agriculture. For example, boosting nitrogen fixation would mean less petroleum-derived nitrogen fertilizers. These interactive biological systems and their applications were attractive tome. Frequent articles appeared in the prestigious science magazines, Science and Nature, describing new and fascinating problems in plant-microbe interactions, including many that could be addressed at the molecular level. My colleagues in the Department of Biology who were conducting research in this area encouraged me to join them. It was also relevant to the mission of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station which had been very supportive of my work.


This work made publicly available electronically on August 16, 2011.

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