Femila Manoj recently received $750 from Beta Beta Beta Research Foundation. She will use that grant for her research on endophytic bacteria.
About her research
Manoj is studying the diversity of rhizobia, a nitrogen-fixing bacteria. She is also looking at non-rhizobia endophytes within the root nodules of soybeans.
It’s been hard to study rhizobia and non-rhizobia endophytes previously because it is difficult to culture these microorganisms on growth media. She plans to do next-generation DNA sequencing, which doesn’t require isolation or culturing. Manoj will extract the DNA, amplify two bacterial genes to identify bacterial diversity within soybean root nodules.
Plants need nitrogen. However, they can’t use atmospheric nitrogen. Rhizobia in the root nodules fixes atmospheric nitrogen for the plant.
Only legumes crops can have a symbiotic association with rhizobia to utilize the nitrogen. Other plants require the addition of chemical fertilizers into the soil to get their nitrogen. Most of the chemical fertilizer is lost into the environment because plants can only use less than one percent. The rest of the chemical fertilizer can be lost into the environment. This can be harmful to nearby environments. Making fertilizer takes a lot of energy and also emits a greenhouse gas during the process.
“If we can understand how and why Rhizobia and legumes make symbiotic relationships, this knowledge can be applied to plants that cannot form legumes to get nitrogen in a more environmentally friendly process,” Manoj said.
Mirza also feels she is deserving of the grant.
“She is an outstanding undergraduate student who is conducting advanced research work in plant-microbe interaction,” Dr. Babur Mirza said. “Her research is very important for sustainable agriculture.”
Working on her research
Manoj works in the research labs of Mirza, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Paul Durham, distinguished professor of biology.
As a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, she was eligible to apply for the grant. She had to send her project proposal and information on Missouri State’s chapter.