Prof Giles Oldroyd, an OpenPlant PI who directs a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation programme of research to engineer nitrogen-fixing cereals has recently joined the Sainsbury Lab at University Cambridge after 15 years at the John Innes Centre in Norwich.
Prof. Giles Oldroyd is a leading investigator in plant-symbiotic interactions, with a particular focus on the signalling processes that allow the establishment of nitrogen-fixing and arbuscular mycorrhizal associations. His work has provided the genetic underpinnings to understand the symbiosis signalling pathway that allows rhizobial recognition in legumes and mycorrhizal associations in most plants. He explained his interests in an introductory post on the SLCU website:
"I spent 15 years working at the John Innes Centre, attempting to understand how plants perceive symbiotic microorganisms present in the rhizosphere. Having contributed to a detailed understanding of symbiosis signalling, I now want to understand how this signalling process activates the developmental changes in the root leading to the formation of a nodule and intracellular bacterial infection."
Prof Oldroyd now leads an international programme funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the BBSRC that is attempting to engineer cereal recognition of rhizobial bacteria as the first step towards engineering nitrogen-fixing cereals.
"There remains much to be discovered before we are likely to be able to transfer nitrogen fixation to cereals. However, I am very excited by the prospect that some day this research could address one of the greatest limitations to agricultural productivity and I am particularly motivated by the fact that the beneficiaries of my work could be some of the poorest people on the planet."
The SynBio SRI welcomes the Oldroyd Lab to Cambridge and we look forward hearing more about their work in plant synthetic biology.