Wageningen University & Research: Veni-grant for six young Wageningen scientists

With Vidi and Vici, Veni is part of the NWO talent programme. Veni grants are made available for excellent researchers who have recently obtained a PhD. Researchers are free to submit their own research topic within the talent programme. Thus, NWO stimulates innovative and curiosity-driven research. NWO selects researchers based on the qualities of the researcher, the innovative characteristics of the research, the research proposal’s expected scientific impact, and the possible uses the generated knowledge may have.

Valuable metals and plant friends
‘Breathing metal and eating poison’ is the title of Martijn Diender’s research. The widespread use of electronics causes an increased demand for metals. As a result, waste streams are rich in metals. Martijn Diender’s research focuses on carbon monoxide using microorganisms capable of reclaiming these valuable metals from waste streams. The metals can then be recycled and the environmental impact reduced.

WUR researcher Rik Huisman intends to study how plants respond to different friends. Some plants are capable of collaborating with beneficial bacteria that sequester nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to the plant. The bacteria communicate with the plant in a manner similar to that of soil fungi. Nonetheless, the plant responds differently to these partners. How has this evolved?

The other four studies
Bridging the gap: How eukaryote complexity originated from prokaryote fusions and original discoveries.
Dr J.J.E. Hooff, Wageningen University & Research

The complex ‘eukaryote’ cell lies at the basis of the most visible life on Earth, such as plants, animals and fungi. This cell emerged some 2 billion years ago as a result of an extensive evolutionary transition from its simple ‘prokaryote’ ancestors. The researcher will investigate what genetic changes facilitated this transition.

The evolution of a rapid reaction to auxin
Dr A. Kuhn, Wageningen University & Research

In plants, the hormone auxin may cause rapid cellular reactions. These reactions have been conserved through evolution, but little is known about how they are generated. In this project, rapid auxin reactions in various plant breeds will be compared with the help of genetics and biochemistry in order to identify the components responsible for generating the reactions.

Science friction: the role of friction in colloidal materials
Dr B. Meer, Wageningen University & Research

The role of friction in a wide range of flowing and malleable materials is remarkably ill-understood at a microscopic level. Using microscopy and computer simulations, the researchers will study how friction between particles affects material properties at the building block level.

A plant’s deepest secret: the impact of root biochemical profiles on soil processes
Dr M.J. Zwetsloot, Wageningen University & Research

Plant roots release an immense diversity of chemical compounds. What is the role of these compounds in soil functioning? This project investigates how root biochemical profiles of plant species steer soil nutrient and carbon cycling. By learning from nature, this research supports a transition towards nature-inclusive and sustainable agricultural systems.

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