Welcome to our group's webpage! We study Sinorhizobium meliloti, which belongs to a fascinating group of soil-dwelling Proteobacteria known as rhizobia. These bacteria are able to enter into endosymbiotic relationships with leguminous plants, during which they inhabit a plant organ known as a nodule. Here, the rhizobia convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonium that is transferred to the plant in exchange for a source of carbon, thereby providing legumes a distinct ability to thrive in nitrogen-deficient soils. This process of symbiotic nitrogen fixation is of significant scientific interest due to its tremendous ecological and agricultural significance. In addition to being a leading model for the study of symbiotic nitrogen fixation, S. meliloti is a wonderful system to examine bacterial metabolism and genome evolution, among other areas.
Our research interests span a diversity of topics and we are always excited to explore new directions. We are particularly interested in developing a systems-biology understanding of the metabolism and regulatory mechanisms of S. meliloti during free-living growth and throughout the symbiosis. We employ an integrative approach involving the use of experimental techniques (e.g., molecular genetics, -omics approaches) as well as computational methods (e.g, constraint-based metabolic modelling). Longer term, we hope to leverage our knowledge to guide synthetic biology attempts at engineering improved symbioses and elite rhizobium inoculants providing increased agricultural outputs and a reduced reliance on nitrogen-based fertilizers.