Research in the Bennett lab has focused on understanding fundamental mechanisms that contribute to crop productivity and food quality. The approaches have integrated genetics, molecular genetics, plant physiology and microbiology.
We focused for many years on cell wall disassembly processes that accompany fruit ripening, using transgenic plants to assess the functions of specific genes. Recently, we turned our attention to Mexican land-race of maize that is able to associate with diazotrophic bacteria to fix atmospheric di-nitrogen. This is contributing to a general model of nitrogen fixation in cereal crops.
Bennett has also focused on Intellectual Property issues that either support or block innovation. With the Rockefeller Foundation, he started the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) and conducted research and education programs to use Intellectual Property to strategically support translational research in agriculture.
Most recently, Bennett established UC Davis Chile, a life science research and innovation center that links UC Davis researchers with Chilean industry and Chilean academic researchers to solve problems in common to Chilean and Californian agriculture.