India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC)
The India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC) is a BBSRC-DBT joint-funded VJC aiming to tackle the problems of food security, the environmental and economic challenges of crop production and soil improvement in India through scientific research on nitrogen fixation. Formed in 2016, with lead investigators in India and the UK and a total of eight additional co-investigators from prestigious institutes and universities in both countries, IUNFC is carrying out world-class fundamental and applied research on biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) to increase scientific knowledge. In the short/medium term, this knowledge will lead to changes in agricultural practices in India, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits. In the longer term, it will provide a platform to engineer nitrogen fixation in cereal crops with implications for worldwide food security.
IUNFC unites eleven renowned experts in all aspects of BNF at six research centres in India and three in the UK under the leadership of Prof. Philip Poole (UK) and Dr DLN Rao/Dr S. R. Mohanty (India). Each co-investigator brings his/her own unique expertise and experience to work together to maximise the impact of BNF. This is timely due to the need to address the environmental and economic challenges of nitrogen use with respect to food security and sustainability. IUNFC seeks to improve soil and increase current levels of crop production in India, reducing the use of nitrogenous fertilisers (costly in monetary and environmental terms), through research leading to selection of superior plant and rhizosphere microorganisms for specific environments. A longer-term goal of IUNFC is an investigation into mechanisms of interaction between nitrogen-fixing microbes and rice, which will provide data for the worldwide aim of developing nitrogen fixation associated with cereals.
An important IUNFC aim is the training of young scientists, exposing them to different learning environments and broadening their experience by visits to other laboratories. A unique aspect of IUNFC is its link with the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD) based at Somerville College, where Prof. Philip Poole is a Senior Research Fellow and a member of OICSD advisory committee. OICSD serves as the University of Oxford’s focal point for the study of India and sustainable development. It acts as an incubator for innovative multi-disciplinary research and currently supports a cohort of Indian students studying all aspects of sustainable development. OICSD convenes the academics and practitioners from Oxford, India and globally, to develop understanding and practical solutions to India’s most pressing challenges. All IUNFC visiting personnel will be joining this programme at OICSD.