A research project, which was developed at the Limerick Institute of Technology, has pulled off a major international coup by being chosen to travel and be tested on the International Space Station next year.

The LIT project entitled ‘Symbiotic Nodulation in a Reduced Gravity Environment' examined how a 'clover like' naturally occurring bacteria fertilizes plants, and how the process can be improved.

The results of the research may lead to a reduction in the use of synthetic fertilizers, with significant benefits for the global community.

The project was lead by Professor Gary Stutte, who has done extensive work on researching plants in space and is the Marie Curie Research fellow working at the Controlled Environment Laboratory for Life Science or CELLS unit at the Limerick Institute.

His work was chosen by the Space Florida International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition, which was open to commercial and academic research programmes across the globe.

The LIT project was just one of eight finally selected to be tested by astronauts on the ISS over a five-week period next year.

LIT says it is the first time an Irish institution has been a leader and principal investigator in an experiment to the ISS.

News of LIT's research project success was beamed into the college by live link-up this afternoon, with the American Society for the Gravitational and Space Research, based in New Orleans.

Reacting to the news, Prof Stutte said the selection of their research programme is a huge statement and a validation for the progressive and critical nature of their research programme.

He said having their research fly to the ISS and being able to partner and mix with elite organisations in this area such as NanoRacks, NASA and ISS, is a stepping stone to bigger and better things for science, research and innovation at LIT.