Kirsten Benjamin

Role in Phytobiomes Alliance

Coordinating Committee, Sponsor Representative


Pivot Bio


Vice President of Microbial Development & Analysis

Research Interests

  • Understanding and optimizing the beneficial associations between plants and their microbiota to improve agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability.
  • Application of genomic technologies and computational modeling to fine-tune the complex metabolic and regulatory networks involved in provision of microbially-fixed nitrogen to their associated plants.
  • Understanding of the dynamics of soil microbiome composition and the emergent behavior of microbial sub-assemblages, especially with respect to provision of fixed nitrogen to the plants.
  • Development and implementation of novel technologies for assessing crop nitrogen status in higher throughput and with greater time resolution.
  • Development of innovative microbial stabilization, formulation, storage, and application technologies for agricultural applications.


Additional Links



Current Phytobiomes-related Projects

Pivot Bio is developing and commercializing root-associated microbes that can fix atmospheric nitrogen and provide it to their associated crop plants (primarily non-legumes). We remodel the complex regulatory circuits involved in nitrogen fixation and assimilation to increase the ability of diazotrophic bacteria to replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. We test the remodeled microbes separately and in consortia, to evaluate their performance across multiple cereal crops in the lab, the greenhouse, and field trials. Once the best microbes are identified, we develop processes for fermentation, formulation, and commercialization. Our goal is to replace even more synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with microbial solutions, by improving and expanding our product offerings.