New MMPRNT Paper on Optimizing Methods for Measuring Free-Living Nitrogen Fixation Out Now!

Led by PhD student Darian Smercina, Optimization of the 15N2 incorporation and acetylene reduction methods for free-living nitrogen fixation was recently published in Plant and Soil. Using both the acetylene reduction assay (ARA) and 15N2 incorporation (15N2) method for measuring nitrogen fixation, Darian assessed the impact of different carbon sources, oxygen concentrations and incubation times on Free-Living Nitrogen Fixation (FLNF) rates. She found that a cocktail of different carbon sources greatly increased fixation as compared to other carbon sources. Highlighting the need for project specific optimization, site played a factor in optimal oxygen concentration, while both the optimal incubation time and oxygen concentration varied by method.  This work also reinforces previous concerns with ARA and stresses caution when using the method. Check out the full paper for more info!

Free Living N Fixation review!

Darian Smercina, PhD student in the Tiemann lab, recently published an exciting review titled To Fix or Not To Fix: Controls on Free-Living Nitrogen Fixation in the Rhizosphere. Published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the paper explores Free Living Nitrogen Fixation (FLNF) as a form of biological N fixation distinct from symbiotic N fixation that may be harnessed to reduce fertilizer inputs in cropping systems. Specifically, the review outlines the ways that environmental conditions and resource availability may control FLNF for a diverse range of rhizosphere diazotroph taxa and offers methodological recommendations to address knowledge gaps in future FLNF studies. Check out the paper to learn more!

MMPRNT Is Hiring! Field/Lab Technician based in the Evans Lab

Lab/Field Research Technician Position in biogeochemistry and microbial ecology, Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University

We are looking to hire a lab/field technicians to work on a collaborative research project investigating plant-soil-microbe interactions in managed lands. More information about this project, which is based at Michigan State University can be found at: This is a great position for someone looking for experience in a research laboratory.

The primary duties will consist of a) lab work (80%, including, but not limited to processing soil samples, nutrient analyses, DNA extractions, data entry and processing, and general lab maintenance) and b) field work (20%, plant and soil sampling) at both local sites and those located in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This position requires a small amount of travel (~1 day trip per month and 2-3 overnight trips over the entire field season).

Ideal candidates will have relevant laboratory and field work experience. We are interested in candidates that are self-motivated, have high attention to detail and organizational skills, and can independently carryout field and laboratory protocols. Candidates should also be willing to work in adverse conditions in the field (e.g. hot and cold weather), and contribute to a team. Successful candidates must have a B.S. or commensurate experience in biogeochemistry or soil science, ecology or other closely related field. Experience in molecular biology is also desired, though not required. Applicants from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

This is a 40 hr/week non-benefited Technical Aide position under a 9-month hire with the potential for renewal for additional 9 month periods depending on performance. Successful applicants will be offered health care through the Affordable Care Act. Compensation will be $13-$16 per hour, depending on qualifications of the applicant. A start date in April 2019 is preferred, but start dates up to May 15 will be considered.

The technician will join the Evans Lab ( at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, which is part of Michigan State University but located in Hickory Corners, MI, 15 miles NE of Kalamazoo, MI. Questions about the position and applications should be submitted to Holly Vander Stel ( Please include “MMPRNT Tech App” in subject line). Applications will begin to be reviewed March 18, 2019 and accepted until the position is filled.

Applications, sent to as a single pdf file, should include:
1) Cover letter (1 page maximum) describing qualifications and interest in the position
2) CV or resume
3) Names, contact information, and brief synopsis of relationship for three references.
MSU is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.