NIFA Grant Awarded to HCS Professor - Dr. Michelle Jones

April 22, 2022
Researching Floriculture in the Wooster Greenhouse

Dr. Michelle Jones, an HCS professor based at our Wooster Campus, recently received a NIFA grant for her research based on “Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria: A Sustainable Technology to Manage Fertilizer Use Efficiency in Controlled Environment Agriculture”. 

NIFA is the National Institute of Food & Agriculture - a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). NIFA has recently “invested over $6 million to support 12 projects as part of the Foundational Knowledge of Agricultural Production Systems program. This program supports plant research to advance knowledge for the wide range of agricultural production systems found across the rural-urban continuum, from conventional open-fields to protected built environments.”

A brief glimpse into the project:

What is the rhizosphere:

“The rhizosphere is the area around a plant's roots that is inhabited by a unique population of microorganisms (primarily fungi and bacteria).”

Why study this:

“To remain competitive and profitable, the U.S. greenhouse industry must continually develop new technologies that optimize the efficiency of production and improve crop quality while reducing their environmental impact.”

The main goal:

“To address [the] knowledge gap regarding microbial resources and their roles in nutrient management for greenhouse production”. To do this she will be attempting to “identify plant growth promoting rhizobacteria that can be used to create synthetic communities to benefit crop performance in soilless, containerized production systems” as well as investigating “how the rhizosphere microbiome is influenced by common greenhouse production practices.”

Steps that will be taken to achieve success:
  1. “Identify phosphorus solubilizing bacteria (PSB) and siderophore producing bacteria (SPB) from a greenhouse rhizospheric bacteria collection.”
  2. “Evaluate the beneficial effects of individual PSB and SPB applications on greenhouse crop performance parameters and nutrient content.” 
  3. “Create synthetic bacterial communities (consortia) that can increase fertilizer nutrient use efficiency and improve crop performance in soilless, containerized greenhouse production systems.”
  4. "Determine the influence of production system characteristics on the rhizosphere microbiome structure of bedding plants growing in containers."

Floriculture Research in the Wooster Greenhouse

Congratulations to Dr. Jones you can learn more about her project here