Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis and Plant Growth and Productivity

This proposal addresses biologically intensive and organic approaches to improve plant nutrition, growth and productivity. Naturally occurring beneficial soil microbes are known to increase the acquisition of nutrients by plants. Optimizing plant-microbe interactions under varying environmental conditions is the key to maximize crop production, which will help the industry to decrease the dependence on chemical fertilizers. This is critical due to the increased cost of fertilizers and fossil fuels. We received first year funding of a two-year request from BioAG to study mycorrhizal (fungal) symbiosis. During the second year we propose to continue our studies on mycorrhizal symbiosis and extend this investigation to include nitrogen fixation (bacterial symbiosis) since fungal and bacterial symbioses share some of the same pathways and our laboratory has a long history of working in this area. We have made exciting progress during the first year of funding and we are in the process of preparing a manuscript for possible publication in the prestigious journal, Nature. We are pleased that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded us a $600,000 grant to carry out basic research on bacterial and fungal symbioses. We are eager to investigate the practical/agricultural applications of our findings. Hence, we are requesting continued funding for the second year from BioAG program. During the upcoming year, we will be submitting a $1,000,000 supplemental funding request to a newly initiated NSF program known as Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) to foster collaboration between WSU team and other researchers/cooperators. Only researchers who have current NSF support are encouraged to apply for this supplemental funding. Our goal is to generate the necessary preliminary results to compete for larger team grants from NSF and USDA. With industry involvement and support, we hope to request funding from federal agencies to carry out both basic and applied research to optimize agricultural practices. We intend to work with industry leaders and selected farmers on this project.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 083
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Poovaiah, J.
  • Investigator(s): Du, Liqun
  • Grant Amount: $20,000





ROUTRAY, P., MILLER, J.B., DU, L., OLDROYD, G. and POOVAIAH, B.W. 2013. Phosphorylation of S344 in the calmodulin-binding domain negatively affects CCaMK function during bacterial and fungal symbioses.  (Plant Journal, doi: 10.1111/tpj.12288).

POOVAIAH, B.W., DU, L., WANG, H. and YANG, T. 2013. Recent Advances in Calcium/Calmodulin-Mediated Signaling with an Emphasis on Plant-Microbe Interactions (Plant Physiology doi/10.1104/pp.113.220780)

Additional Funds Leveraged

On March 30, 2011, NSF awarded us a small supplemental grant of $6,000 to help one undergraduate student. For your information, we have also received a four-year grant of $600,000 from NSF to continue our project until 2014. We are gathering background information to raise more money from federal agencies such as NSF and USDA.


This BIOAg support is helping us to generate background information needed to raise additional grant support.