Endophytes as a Tool for Increasing Productivity and Health of Jatropha curcas Agroecosystems

EPA Grant Number: F13B30472
Title: Endophytes as a Tool for Increasing Productivity and Health of Jatropha curcas Agroecosystems
Investigators: Mighell, Kimberly Louise
Institution: Tulane University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 25, 2014 through August 25, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Ecology


Endophytes have been shown to increase primary productivity, shape plant architecture, increase disease resistance and deter herbivores. This research aims to increase the sustainability of the green-energy crop via jatropha endophytes, in relation of pathogens, plant primary productivity and other endophytes. The purpose of this research is to elucidate how endophytes can improve the health and productivity of a green-energy agricultural ecosystem in small, tropical jatropha farms.


Endophytic bacteria travels through the plant via vascular tissue. This research will examine the in planta dispersal and establishment of endophytic bacteria to assess the spatial distribution and effects of bacterial strains. It will compare primary productivity and seed production, as well as disease resistance and herbivory of endophyte-treated and endophyte- free plants. Common garden plots throughout central Panama will give insight into the impact of natural environmental conditions and biotic interactions. Greenhouse experiments will allow treatment with specific abiotic and biotic conditions, paralleling and complementing plot trials and allowing description of precise mechanisms.

Expected Results:

It is predicted that different bacterial endophytes will disperse and estab- lish in different niches in planta. These bacterial communities will have different spatial impacts on plant architecture, primary productivity. Likewise, it is predicted that certain endophyte strains will have a strong effect on primary productivity and will increase the seed yield of its host’s plants. It is expected that endophyte-inoculated plants will be less susceptible to disease. Each of these effects will likely be influenced by particular bacterial strains found within the native range of jatropha.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

By using the native microbiome of jatropha, this research will develop ways improve the health and productivity of jatropha agroecosystems. These finding can be applied and have the ability to improve the ecological, economic and social sustainability of green-energy agriculture.

Supplemental Keywords:

acroecology, biofuel, endophytes

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final