After his masters Rik op den Camp decided to go for a PhD at Wageningen University. At the chair group Molecular Biology, he carries out research to root nodules. In root nodules a specific group of bacteria (of the genus Rhizobium) cooperate with plants. The bacteria can fix nitrogen out of the air. Nitrogen is a very important resource for a plant, and a major component of artificial fertilizer. For plants, the only source of nitrogen is the soil. By cooperating with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their root nodules, plants are capable of growing on nitrogen poor soils, too. The bacteria too profit from this symbiosis, as they attain nutrients from the plant. A win-win situation, so it seems.
In his research, Rik examines the coorperation between plants and bacteria. “I study the evolution, and specific plants which have or have not this relation, and I compared them.
Rik started his bachelor Molecular Life Sciences in 2001, but after one and a half year he switched to the bachelor Biology. “The mathematics and physics really took me out of my depth. And so I decided to continue in biology, on the cell and molecular site.” Subsequently, he did a research master within which two graduate courses and an internship. “If one knows one wants to become a PhD after graduation and to continue in research, I would certainly recommend that.”
After finishing his master, Rik was offered several PhD-positions. From this selection he has chosen the root nodule research. “I was already acquainted with the chairgroup, during a minor graduation course I did at Molecular Biology. At that time, I also worked on root nodules. Proper research is carried out in Wageningen, especially on plants, and on top of that, the atmosphere is really great, too.”