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RIGG, Jessica

Research Officer Soil Microbiology

Research interests

  • Elite rhizobial strain selection for improved legume production and resilience in hostile soils
  • Practical aspects of managing rhizobia and legumes and their relationships with soils
  • The effect of soil management on nitrogen fixation, soil microbial communities and nutrient cycling
  • Effects of soil amendments and management practices on soil microbial communities and soil function


Dr Jessica Rigg has led the Australian Inoculants Research Group (AIRG) of NSW Department of Primary Industries since 2017 and represents NSW on the National Rhizobium Steering Committee (NRSC). The AIRG is responsible for implementing the National Code of Practice for Legume Inoculant Quality and authenticating and supplying Australia’s commercial rhizobial strains to industry each year.

Jessica completed her PhD in 2016 through Western Sydney University, investigating how soil microbial communities influence the conservation of the critically endangered Wollemi pine.

Dr Rigg’s research focuses on plant-microbe interactions, in particular, how soil microbial communities can influence plant performance, soil function and soil nutrient cycling. Jessica has worked with beneficial microbes that promote plant growth (e.g. rhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) and plant pathogens such as Phytophthora that cause disease.

Jessica has been involved in work investigating how soil amendments used in the current NSW DPI/GRDC subsoils constraints project and soil management techniques such as soil tillage affected microbial communities.

Jessica is currently working on validating new acid-tolerant rhizobia to increase the effectiveness of nitrogen fixation in key pulses including chickpeas, peas, lentils and vetch. The goal is to broaden the adaptation of high-value winter pulses by overcoming key constraints such as soil acidity. Jessica’s research contributes to increases in primary productivity and enhanced agricultural resource conditions. Jessica is based at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), Menangle.


BSc Honours, Western Sydney University, 2012

PhD Soil Microbiology, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, 2016

Current Projects

  • Implementing the ‘Green Tick’ program and National Code of Practice for legume inoculant quality (in collaboration with industry partners New Edge Microbials, BASF and Novozymes BioAg)
  • Authenticating and supplying Australia’s commercial rhizobial strains to industry (in collaboration with industry partners New Edge Microbials, BASF and Novozymes BioAg)
  • Acid-tolerant Pulse Rhizobia Project (Grains and Research and Development Corporation, GRDC)
  • Phytophthora Root-rot Resistant (PRR) Chickpea Breeding Project (GRDC-DPI Bilateral)
  • Not enough nodules: effect of herbicides on nodulation and N-fixation (Meat and Livestock Australia, MLA)
  • High Rainfall Zone Legume (Livestock Productivity Partnership, LLP and MLA)

Recent publications

View Jess's publications on her Google Scholar profile or ORCID profile

Professional associations

National Rhizobium Steering Committee (NRSC)


Nitrogen fixation, legumes and rhizobia

Plant–soil microbe interactions

Soil nutrient cycling

Soil function and resilience

Soil microbial ecology

Molecular biology

Contact details

Phone: (02) 4640 6503

Email: jessica.rigg@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Location: EMAI, Menangle