Our Team

Euan James

Research Leader

The James Hutton Institute

I completed my PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Dundee in 1990, and then over the next 10 years worked as a World Bank-consultant in Brazil and the Philippines where I specialised in the localisation of N-fixing bacteria in sugarcane and rice using electron microscopy. After periods working at the University of Dundee as an electron microscopist, I joined the James Hutton Institute as a plant and microbial scientist (Research Leader). I specialise in root-nodulating symbiotic interactions between (mainly) legumes and soil bacteria called rhizobia that “fix” atmospheric Nitrogen (N) gas into forms that the plant can use for its growth. These symbioses, in which the legume houses the rhizobia in structures on their roots called nodules, provide the host plant with all its N requirements, and thus allow these plants to colonize soils that are depleted in this most essential of plant nutrients. In addition to their ecological importance, many legumes, such as pea, beans, soybeans, clover etc., are of enormous agricultural significance, with their high-protein seeds being used for both human and animal consumption. Their ability to fix their own N means that no addition of N-containing fertiliser is required for their cultivation. This is an essential attribute for sustainable agriculture, not just economically, but also in terms of mitigation against pollution resulting from the massive overuse of agricultural fertilizer over the last 50 years. This overuse has resulted in the current “Nitrogen Crisis” in which waterways, groundwater, and even coastal ecosystems are polluted by harmful nitrates, and is also partly responsible for the enormous greenhouse gas (especially nitrous oxides) emissions that are produced by agriculture in the Global North. This can only be tackled by reducing our over-reliance on fertilisers; the efficient exploitation of N-fixing legumes is key to this endeavour, and my research is largely focused on this.


15 Jun 2023Intimacy stabilizes symbiotic nodulation. Author(s): Euan James

22 Jul 2023Biological nitrogen fixation by soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.), a novel, high protein crop in Scotland, requires inoculation with non-native bradyrhizobia Author(s): Maluk, M., Giles, M., Wardell, G.E., Taqrir Akramin, A., Ferrando-Molina, F., Murdoch, A., Barros, M., Beukes, C., Vasconçelos, M., Harrison, E., Daniell, T.J., Quilliam, R.S., Iannetta, P.P.M., and James, E.K

10 Jun 2023Aromatic amino acid biosynthesis impacts root hair development and symbiotic associations in Lotus japonicus Author(s): Montiel, J., García-Soto, I., James, E.K., Reid, D., Cárdenas, L., Napsucialy-Mendivil, S., Ferguson, S., Dubrovsky, J.G., and Stougaard, J.

28 Jul 2022The innovation of the symbiosome has enhanced the evolutionary stability of nitrogen fixation in legumes Author(s): De Faria, S.M., Ringelberg, J.J., Gross, E., Koenen, E.J.M., Cardoso, D., Ametsitsi, G.K.D., Akomatey, J., Maluk, M., Tak, N., Gehlot, H.S., Wright, K.M., Teaumroong, N., Songwattana, P., de Lima, H.C., Prin, Y., Zartman, C.E., Sprent, J.I., Ardley, J., Hughes, C.E., and James, E.K.

20 Jan 2022Fields with no recent legume cultivation have sufficient nitrogen-fixing rhizobia for crops of faba bean (Vicia faba L.) Author(s): Maluk, M., Ferrando-Molina, F., Lopez del Egido, L., Langarica-Fuentes, A., Yohannes, G.G., Young, M.W., Martin, P., Gantlett, R., Kenicer, G., Hawes, C., Begg, G.S., Quilliam, R.S., Squire, G.R., Young, J.P.W., Iannetta, P.P.M., and James, E.K.

4 Dec 2020Distinct signaling routes mediate intercellular and intracellular rhizobial infection in Lotus japonicus Author(s): Montiel, J., Reid, D., Grønbæk, T.H., Benfeldt, C.M., James, E.K., Ott, T., Ditengou, F.A., Nadzieja, M., Kelly, S., and Stougaard, J.

3 May 2021Conditional sanctioning in a legume-Rhizobium mutualism. Author(s): Westhoek, A., Clark, L.J., Culbert, M., Dalchau, N., Griffiths, M.S., Jorrín, B., Karunakaran, R., Ledermann, R., Tkacz, A., Webb, I.U., James, E.K., Poole, P.S., and Turnbull L.A

14 Jul 2020Reliable quantification of N2 fixation by non-legumes remains problematic Author(s): Unkovich, M., Herridge, D., James, E.K., Giller, K., and Peoples M.B.

1 Aug 2018Whole Genome Analyses Suggests that Burkholderia sensu lato Contains Two Additional Novel Genera (Mycetohabitans gen. nov., and Trinickia gen. nov.): Implications for the Evolution of Diazotrophy and Nodulation in the Burkholderiaceae Author(s): Estrada-de los Santos, P., Palmer, M., Chávez-Ramírez, B., Beukes, C., Steenkamp, E.T., Briscoe, L., Khan, N., Maluk, M., Lafos, M., Humm, E., Arabit, M., Crook, M., Gross, E., Simon, M.F., dos Reis Junior, F.B., Whitman, W.B., Shapiro, N., Poole, P.S., Hirsch, A.M., Venter, S.N., and James, E.K.

17 Feb 2017Biogeography of nodulated legumes and their nitrogen-fixing symbionts Author(s): Sprent, J.I., Ardley, J.A., and James, E.K.