MSU formalizes International Associated Laboratory partnership with INRAE

The Intl. Associated Laboratory agreement will facilitate the sharing of human resources and materials to implement a jointly defined research program investigating molecular mechanisms involved in plant mineral nutrient adaptation to climate change.

On his visit to Michigan State University (MSU), Jean-François Soussana signed the formal agreement for a new LIA on the molecular mechanisms involved in plant mineral nutrient adaptation to climate change (IN-COMBI, Inclusive Nutrition: combinatorial nutritional signals drive plant responses to climate change). This delivers on the letter of intent agreed between MSU and INRAE (Institut national de la recherche agronomique -   National Institute of Agronomic Research)  in October 2022, which recognized the potential for collaboration. A framework cooperation agreement will be drawn up in Autumn 2023.

Visit to Michigan State University and the laboratories of the Plant and Microbial Science (PSM) department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
“As the oldest agricultural University in the United States, MSU is a heavyweight partner. Many areas for joint working were discussed, not least plant science and soil health” Jean-François Soussana

Coordinated by the Plant Biology and Breeding (BAP) Department at INRAE, the IN-COMBI LIA also brings Montpellier’s Institut Agro and the University of Montpellier on board. The impetus for the project came from Benoît Lacombe and Sandrine Ruffel (INRAE’s IPSiM Unit) and from Hatem Rouached at MSU, who share a long history of collaboration. Their intention is to use the LIA to study the interactions between the nutritional components of plants in response to climate change, spurred by the need to break down research silos where each nutrient were being studied individually. "At INRAE we had teams for each nutrient, but we were aware that all these elements were interacting with each other to produce emergent properties. It is therefore very useful to work with the Plant Soil and Microbial Science Department at MSU, who have a more multidisciplinary approach", Benoît Lacombe explains. For the MSU teams, the desire to collaborate is also inspired by the high quality of the education and training through research received by students in France.

This LIA provides the opportunity to formalize and secure the future of this collaboration, which responds to public expectations surrounding climate change and environmental issues. Teaching and training lie at its heart, facilitated by the exchanges and mobility opportunities the agreement affords to researchers and doctoral students from the participant institutions. Contributions from MSU researchers to French educational programs are already planned as part of the LIA. It should also allow greater access to research funding.

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