Endophytes for Smart Agriculture

Prof. Trevor Hodkinson and Dr. Brian Murphy.

Like gut bacteria for human health, plants contain micro-organisms called endophytes. They live inside plants and can play an important role in the resilience of plants to several challenges (including drought, disease, and temperature fluctuations). They can enable plants to better acquire nutrients from soil, improve their ability to tolerate stress and enhance their growth. Many commercial crops have lost these endophytes. Prospecting endophytes from the wild relatives of commercial crops and inoculating them into commercial strains can lead to significant benefits for plant and for farmers.

“Endophytes can make crops adapt better to climate change, reduce or optimise the use of fertilisers, optimise the use of water  and improve the health of soil.”

Prof. Trevor Hodkinson and Dr. Brian Murphy have world-class expertise and infrastructure for endophyte discovery, isolation and validation (from small scale to large field scale). Through this platform, Trinity College can bio-prospect endophytes from wild relatives of several crops (mainly cereals and fruits), can fully test safety, and tailor endophyte mixtures for crop environments. Technology in this space has been patented and successfully licensed for specific regions and crops.