Sofie De Meyer
My career in the field of rhizobiology research started during my master’s thesis, which investigated Burkholderia bacteria in root nodules from Belgian legumes. As the project revealed interesting results, a PhD project was submitted and granted to investigate the diversity of root nodule bacteria in Belgian legumes. Sampling campaigns were to be designed to obtain an even data distribution across Belgium. With guidance from the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), I used GIS data to obtain sampling locations with a high diversity of legume plants. Root nodules were collected and bacteria isolated. The results from my PhD were published in three peer-reviewed journals (Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Systematic and applied Microbiology and International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology). Following my PhD I shifted my attention to more agriculturally applied rhizobiology and started working for the Centre for Rhizobium studies (CRS) at Murdoch University (Australia). Through my contribution to the ARC Linkage grant “The Betaproteobacteria: could they play a key role in nitrogen fixation on infertile soils with legumes adapted to climate change?”, three novel Burkholderia species were discovered and successfully characterized, using a polyphasic taxonomy approach. Glasshouse experiments provided additional knowledge on the interaction of these strains with several host plants. This work resulted in four publications, including three novel species descriptions. During my engagement with the CRS I have also been involved in the root nodule bacteria genome project (RNB-GEBA) of Dr. Wayne Reeve and was introduced to complete genome sequence analysis. The group effort resulted in the publication of 10 papers in the Standard of Genomic Sciences journal.