Back in the winter of 2019 we featured an article in our Plant Health themed edition called Soil: the Foundation of life on Earth. This took a look at the research of two scientists at the John Innes Centre, and shone a light on their work investigating the role of soil in the health of plants and our planet.

This edition is dedicated to soil, roots, and soil-dwelling microbes. From nitrogen fixation and other symbioses, to specially formulated cocktails of bacteria to alleviate the damaging effects of soil dwelling pathogens on our crops.

We catch up with Professor Tony Miller, and explore his group’s research into the uptake and transport of nutrients from the soil. His team are developing nitrogen sensors in collaboration with farmers and industrial partners to reduce the amount of fertiliser required to be added to fields.

We talk soil bacteria and the exciting research of Dr Jake Malone and Dr Andy Truman (turn to P18), finding out how an industrial collaboration is leading to new ways to control plant pests and diseases.

Also in this edition we look at the past, present and future of streptomyces research at the John Innes Centre. Sir David Hopwood’s research into this beneficial soil bacteria began a long tradition of study, and his breakthroughs have left a legacy which new groups are using to further our understanding of the soil’s microbiome. Professor Matt Hutching’s group are leading the field in this area.

We also hear from John Innes Alumni Professor Robert Crabtree (formerly of the Nitrogen Fixation Unit), and feature images taken from Henry Driver’s artwork which takes inspiration from our research.


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