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Royal Society University Fellowship awarded to Carmen Sánchez-Cañizares

April 12, 2023

Congratulations to our Research Member of Common Room, Dr Carmen Sánchez-Cañizares, who has been awarded one of the Royal Society’s 2022 University Research Fellowships. The scheme is for outstanding scientists who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field.

Dr Sánchez-Cañizares is based in the Department of Biology and her research is focused on soil microbes.

They influence plant growth, soil health, and resource use efficiency. When selected microbes are applied as bioinoculants, they improve plant nutritional status and protect against biotic and abiotic stresses. Unravelling the net result of tightly regulated microbial activities is key to understanding microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions to allow the full yield potential of crop plants to be realized.

To this aim, her project seeks to understand how bacterial regulatory networks control different aspects of the cell physiology through a signalling cross-talk, allowing the cell to act at different times relative to their metabolic requirements, environmental signals and stress conditions. She will use as a model plant-bacterium interaction the symbiosis between nitrogen-fixation bacteria, called rhizobia, and legume plants. Focusing on plant-microbe interactions, the ultimate goal is ensuring an optimal cell function in bacterial bioinoculants for sustainable agriculture, soil health and food production.

Climate change and the looming nitrogen crisis – stemming from the intensive use of chemical fertilisers – are key challenges in agriculture. In light of these, soil microbes and their ability to influence plant growth, soil health, and resource use efficiency are becoming ever more essential. Deciphering these interactions will facilitate practical applications for sustainable agriculture and higher crop yields.

Carmen told us:

I am truly delighted and honoured to be awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. This prestigious programme is a life-changing opportunity to build an independent research career and establish a well-known area of research in microbiology that would identify my future group. The support and funding from the Royal Society will certainly foster my research career and will allow me to lead a very exciting project. I feel extremely grateful for this recognition and I am looking forward to start this new venture and build up my own research team!”