Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Plant Research
Room: Exhibit Hall A
Kamaya Brantley - University of Georgia
Co-Author(s): Corey Schultz, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Jason Wallace, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Food production is becoming an increasing concern for sustaining our future population. As the population continues to grow, it is necessary to find alternative methods of food production that increases our crop yield without draining our current resources. In an effort to discover possible solutions, my lab is conducting research on the effects of different endophytes on the growth of maize as a possible alternative solution. Prior to this project, only one endophyte, Herbaspirillium, had been tested. For this project, I determined the phenotypic differences from inoculating maize with an alternative nitrogen-fixing bacterium, Burkholderia. The phenotypes that appeared were examined and compared with the differences from inoculation of Herbaspirillum. In doing so, a better understanding of what inoculation does to maize and how bacterial manipulation could improve maize production in the near future was hoped to be obtained. Given that plants seemingly experienced a higher and more efficient growth rate when inoculated with Herbaspirillum, it was hypothesized that maize that was grown in the bacterial Burkholderia solution would grow better and larger as a result of having the bacteria as an aid to affix nitrogen to the plant. Fifty seeds from five different maize varieties were collected. Half of the seeds were sterilized and treated as controls, and the other half were sterilized and had their soil inoculated with Burkholderia. The maize was sterilized using a surface sterilization method prior to planting to eliminate other bacteria living on and inside of the corn. Seeds were allowed to germinate in sterilized magenta boxes for a week, and then moved to a greenhouse to grow for two weeks. Upon collection, phenotypic differences were identified through root, leaf, and mass measurements. Initial results indicated that there were no significant differences to arise between methods. There were a few significant differences between some plants in regards to root volume and leaf area, but none of which were notable enough to come to a conclusion about soil inoculation. Therefore, it is possible that soil inoculation with Burkholderia is not a feasible method of facilitating nitrogen-fixing in plants. In the future, the experiment will be tailored to have the seeds grow for a longer period of time to facilitate more nitrogen-fixation. Furthermore, the seeds will be inoculated directly rather than indirectly through the soil to promote more bacteria affixation. In doing so, more results are hoped to be seen to determine the possible effects of nitrogen-fixing bacteria on maize.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The UGA Plant Center; USDA; NIFA
Faculty Advisor: Shannon Jolly, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: While my project stemmed from research that was already being conducted in my lab, I was responsible for the design and conduction of this project. I determined the seed varieties that would be used, sterilized the seeds, collected and inoculated the soil, collected the data, and compiled all of the data to analyze the results. I received help from my graduate mentor with sterilization protocols, the creation of the bacterial solution and plant processing. My mentor also helped me gain more focus on what direction to take my research in.