Improving legume, rhizobia and nitrogen fixation science

Legume Rhizobium Sciences is Murdoch University’s dedicated centre for the science of rhizobia, nitrogen fixation and legumes.

With an emphasis on research outcomes that help growers, our work focuses on understanding the basic biology of rhizobia-legume symbioses and their application in the field to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability.

Established at Murdoch University in 1997 as the Centre for Rhizobium Studies, Legume Rhizobium Sciences is now the largest group of its kind in Australia and one of the largest in the world, focused on the science of rhizobia and legumes.

Rhizobia are a group of soil bacteria that form a symbiotic association with legumes. The rhizobia infect legume root nodules and within these nodules, they fix atmospheric nitrogen into plant-available nitrogen. This nitrogen is fed to the plant so that incorporating legumes like peas, chickpeas or clover into farming systems reduces the need to use industrially synthesised fertiliser to supply nitrogen to crops.

Research focus

Our team harnesses the power of modern genome sequencing and molecular genetics coupled with a well-established field evaluation program to identify new rhizobia and legume cultivars for Australian agriculture. This work is underpinned by a strong track record in basic research to understand how rhizobia are converted into nitrogen fixing “factories” by legumes.

Our work is currently supported through three large, nationally funded research projects:

Bee on flower

Dryland Legume Pasture Systems (DLPS)

Boosting profit and reducing risk on mixed farms in low and medium rainfall areas with newly discovered legume pastures enabled by innovative management methods – Western Region (Dryland Legume Pasture Systems).

Aerial shot of field

Nitrogen Fixation Program (NFP)

Increasing the effectiveness of nitrogen fixation in pulses through improved rhizobial strains in the GRDC Western Region.


International Legume Inoculant Genebank (ILIG)

Preserving Australia’s rhizobial collections in a national repository to benefit the Australian grain industry. Information on strains in the ILIG is provided via the searchable online catalogue.


For further information on LRS research, or if you are interested in conducting postgraduate studies with LRS, contact Dr Jason Terpolilli on

LRS members

Dr Graham O’Hara
Director and Head of Agricultural Sciences

Professor John Howieson
Professor of Sustainable Agriculture

Dr Emma Steel
Postdoctoral Fellow, Biostatistics

Chris Poole
Senior Research Officer

Dinani Twite
Research Assistant

Kit Burns
PhD Student

Dr Jason Terpolilli
Research Director

Professor Michael Dilworth
Emeritus Professor of Biology

Dr MacLean Kohlmeier
Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbial genomics

Robert Harrison
Research Officer

Benedict Arthur
Research Assistant

Dr Ron Yates
Associate Professor, Pasture Agronomy and Rhizobiology

Dr Yvette Hill
Postdoctoral Fellow, N2 fixation efficiency

Helen Shortland-Jones
Professional Officer

Georgina Stagg
PhD Student

Tom Edwards
PhD Student

Useful links

Research publications

Access research publications from Legume Rhizobium Sciences (previously the Centre for Rhizobium Studies).

Learn more about research publications

National Rhizobium Steering Committee (NRSC)

The NRSC are responsible for ensuring the quality of commercial rhizobial inoculant strains is maintained for the benefit of Australian growers by providing oversight and knowledge to the industry.

Learn more about the steering committee

Inoculating Legumes: Practice and Science

This handbook was written collaboratively by a group of Australian experts in the field of rhizobiology and nitrogen fixation from universities and state departments.

Learn more about inoculating legumes

Pasture Legumes in Southern Australia Management Guide

This guide shares knowledge to support the management of new annual legume pasture species domesticated, bred and selected to suit southern Australia.

Learn more about pasture legumes

18th Australian Nitrogen Fixation Conference (ANFC2022) - 5th to 8th December 2022

ANFC2022 Conference Program hosted by LRS at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle WA.