Derek Lundberg says: “Productive and resilient crops feed more people using less fertilizer, water, and fewer chemicals. One way to improve crops is by the well-established but slow process of plant breeding. Unfortunately, due to rapid climate change, breeding has difficulty keeping pace. Remarkably, applying beneficial bacteria to plants may improve growth and disease resistance while avoiding environmentally damaging field treatments. We know that different beneficial bacteria can help plants collect nutrients, protect them from drought, heat, and plant diseases, and help produce a better harvest. What we do not yet understand is why these bacteria help plants without causing disease, and how they can thrive on crops in agricultural fields. I will strive to answer these questions by focusing on Sphingomonas, an extremely common group of plant-associated bacteria. I will identify promising strains and the genes supporting their potential, guiding the use of these bacteria for sustainable crop production.”
Derek Lundberg will relocate from his postdoc position at the department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany to set up his independent research group at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in the spring of 2022.