Travel Awardee, Bucking 2013

BuckingHeike Bücking, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biology and Microbiology
South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
Award year: 2013
Dr. Bucking's primary research focus is on nutrient transport, and resource exchange between the symbiotic partners in the arbuscular mycorrhizal and ectomycorrhizal symbiosis. Bücking notes that approximately 80% of all known land plants, including important crop species such as soybean, corn, wheat and rice, form this mutualistic symbiosis with ubiquitous soil fungi. “The fungus takes up nitrogen, phosphate and other nutrients from the soil, and transfers these nutrients to the host plant in exchange for carbohydrates,” she says. “In addition to the nutritional benefit, mycorrhizal fungi increase the resistance of plants against abiotic (drought, heavy metals, salinity, etc.) and biotic stresses.” The Bücking lab uses labeling approaches to track nutrient transport in the symbiosis, molecular and genomic techniques to understand how resource exchange across the mycorrhizal interface is triggered, and follow changes in the plant and fungal transcriptome before and after the symbiosis has been established. “The primary goal of these research projects is understanding how mycorrhizal benefits for the host plant can be maximized to improve the environmental sustainability of food and bioenergy crop production,” she says.
No stranger to working with beginning investigators, Bücking’s current research team includes several undergraduate and graduate students and a postdoctoral scientist. She also actively collaborates with scientists from national and international institutions. Projects in the Bücking lab are funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Sun Grant Initiative, and the South Dakota Wheat Commission. In addition to research activities, “I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in microbiology and in plant science and coordinate an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) site on bioenergy that is funded by the National Science Foundation,” says Bücking. “The goal of this program is to provide motivated undergraduate students primarily from undergraduate institutions with low research activity and from underrepresented groups in the sciences with an opportunity to get actively involved in innovative research questions and to gain hands-on experiences in state of the art technologies.”   

ASM-LINK Welcomes Your Input
Looking for advice on ways to enhance undergraduate learning or just hoping to start a conversation about innovative ways to involve underrepresented minorities in research? The ASM-NSF Leaders Inspiring Networks and Knowledge (LINK) programs welcome your interest. Contact the individual awardee for details. 
LINK is sponsored by ASM with support from National Science Foundation grant no. 1241970.