Compositions and Methods for Increasing Plant Yield

Tech ID: 33029 / UC Case 2017-689-0


Nitrogen-fixing bacteria can transform atmospheric nitrogen into fixed nitrogen, compounds which are usable by plants. For example, Rhizobium is a symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria that invade the root hairs of host plants where they multiply and stimulate the formation of root nodules. Within these nodules, nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert free nitrogen into compounds such as ammonia, which the host plant uses for its development.


Legume plants such as peas and soybeans can be infected by nitrogen-fixing bacteria for such benefits. Legume crops are extremely valuable in the United States and around the world. A modest increase in crop yield could increase profits by billions of dollars. Thus, there is an interest and need to improve methods of cultivating crops and increase crop yield. A UC Santa Cruz researcher, in collaboration with The Carnegie Institution for Science, has developed improved approaches for infecting legume plants with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Technology Description

The approaches involve treating nitrogen-fixing bacteria populations with light before infecting legume plants with them. This improves the bacteria population’s capacity to infect legume plants. The legume plants are then inoculated with the light-activated bacteria, potentially via an irrigation system. Some approaches involve delivering the light-activated population after the legume plant has already developed a root with a functional root hair.


These approaches improve legume plant yield in several ways, such as by improving seed yield.  






  • legume agriculture
  • optogenetics
  • nitrogen fixation


  • improves crop yield
  • improves fertilization
  • increases nodule formation
  • increases seed yield
  • increases stem height
  • increases bean yield
  • increases chlorophyll production
  • readily adaptable


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  • Bogomolni, Roberto

Other Information


legume, nitrogen fixation, rhizobium, inoculation, photoreceptor, LOV domain, BLUF domain, PYP domain, rhodopsin, PAS domain, leghemoglobin, LED light, blue light, drip irrigation, fertilization, bacteria, nodule, light-activation, crop, agriculture

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