High Throughput Nitrogen-fixing Microbe Screening

Quantifying nitrogen fixation through real-time measurement of hydrogen levels

Overview: Agriculture contributes to 24% of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of this can be contributed to synthetic fertilizers. Microbes are able to provide nutrients (nitrogen) to plants just as good, and if not better, than chemical fertilizers. However, a problem in this field is the time needed for scientists to screen which bateria are better nitrogen-fixers than others. My personal research through my internship at Pivot Bio was on how I could make this process more efficient. By looking at and quantifying hydrogen, a byproduct of nitrogen fixation, I found that scientists actually have a way to monitor in real-time the performance of bacteria. I developed a hydrogen sensor that harnesses this finding to replace two chemical ammonium assays and allow bacterial screening to be done on 96 well plate capacity. Here is a blog post about my experience.

GCS relation: Climate change is a huge problem that many scientists are trying to solve. My research seek to allow scientists to target agricultural greenhouse emissions more efficiently, by reducing time and tenious benchwork, when discovering microbes that could replace chemical fertilizers.

Supervisor: Dr. Min-Hyung Ryu (Senior Scientist at Pivot Bio)

Duration: May 2021 - August 2021

Total Hours of Completion: 600 hrs