The annual Bethany College Scholarship Symposium returns to an in-person format on the morning of April 7. Today, we will feature some students who will present research or projects. For a complete schedule, click here.

BETHANY, W.Va. – Sustainable agriculture and passion for plant science is the root of Julianne Latynski’s research.

Julianne LatynskiThe junior environmental science major from Avella, Pa., will display “The Symbiotic Relationship Between Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria and Leguminous Plants: A Solution for Sustainable Agriculture” during Poster Session II, beginning at 10:15 a.m. in the Academic Parlour of Old Main.

The project focuses on the importance of the mutualistic relationship of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and leguminous plants. Latynski addresses the flaws of monoculture methods while also describing how nitrogen-fixing bacteria could benefit agricultural systems and reduce pollution.

During a summer job at Meadowcroft, Latynski taught guests about the “three sisters” – beans, corn and squash – gardening techniques. The method uses legumes’ relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

“As an environmental science major, I understand how important yet damaging chemical fertilizers are and decided to incorporate this aspect into the project as well,” Latynski said.

Some of her key points:

  • Although nitrogen gas comprises about 78 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, it is a limiting nutrient in most systems.
  • Nitrogen-fixing bacteria produce most usable forms of nitrogen.
  • Rhizobia and leguminous plants co-evolved millions of years ago, developing a well-established mutualistic relationship.
  • The legume host and rhizobia symbionts communicate via a chemical lexicon in the soil to establish a root nodule where nitrogen-fixation occurs under anoxic conditions.

Dr. Karen Kormuth, assistant professor of biology, advised the project.

“Although the research and writing process was incredibly stressful, it was rewarding and I am surprised by how much I enjoyed learning about it,” Latynski said.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.