Fairchild researcher and FIU faculty member Eric von Wettberg and his colleagues Doug Cook and Varma Penmetsa at the University of California at Davis were recently awarded an NSF grant for a project entitled: "Deducing the Genomic Footprint and Functional Impact of Chickpea Domestication on Nitrogen Fixation." In this project they aim to understand the dynamics of nitrogen uptake via symbiotic bacteria in the wild progenitors of legume crops and the ways in which human selection has reshaped this potential during domestication. Specifically, they will combine ecology and population genomics with classical molecular genetics and reverse genetic assays to deduce the functional consequences of standing variation in wild populations of Cicer reticulatum and its domesticated counterpart Cicer arietinum (chickpea). They hope to expand our knowledge of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in novel ways, and will contribute to an emerging paradigm in plant biology where the intersection of ecology, genomics and molecular biology empowers the study of gene function in natural and human-built environments. Ultimately this work has the potential to reduce inputs of fertilizer in agricultural systems. This project owes much to the legacy of David Fairchild, as one of its aims is to expand the diversity of crop wild relatives in international breeding collections. von Wettberg will be continuing field work began in Turkey during the summer of 2013 in the coming years through this project.