Fertilizers used for growing crops can be expensive and produce negative environmental impacts. But the results of a study published in Nature Microbiology could open the door to reducing fertilizer usage by increasing biological nitrogen fixation.
Study co-author John Peters, director of Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, uses legumes as a model to investigate how metabolic processes in bacteria create and use energy. He and his colleagues are trying to replicate the symbiotic relationship that exists between crops such as chickpeas and lentils and the bacteria growing within their root tissues. The bacteria take nitrogen from the air and convert it to ammonia, a natural fertilizer that the legume crops use as energy to grow.
The process works through a series of signals exchanged between legumes and microbes, in which chemicals given off by the crops let the microbes know that the legume plants need fixed oxygen. The microbes also release signals letting the plants know they need carbon.
The researchers are working to produce a synthetic version of the exchange and have identified and transferred a group of genes into plant-colonizing bacteria that enable nitrogen fixation. The team’s goal is to add the gene groups into other bacteria. If successful, the process could reduce the need for human-made fertilizers in the production of wheat, soybeans, and corn, as well as other food crops.
“This project is aimed at increasing food production and helping feed the world,” said Peters in a press release. “Transforming food production to work without nitrogen-based fertilizers could be a huge development in underdeveloped countries. Adding these microbes would be like pouring kombucha on roots.”
Researchers at Western University have identified a molecule found in oranges and tangerines that could hold the key to reversing obesity and regressing plaque build-up in arteries.
Researchers from Towson University developed a method for determining where a particular chocolate was produced using its chemical “fingerprint,” with the hopes that it could one day be used to trace the chocolate back to the farm that grew the beans.
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Researchers at the University of Florida are on a mission to save—and sweeten—sweet corn.
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Separate research from the University of Illinois and Tufts University have examined new bioprocesses for producing tagatose in a more cost-effective manner.
PepsiCo and Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX), the manufacturer of Bang Energy drinks, have entered into an exclusive alliance for PepsiCo to distribute the portfolio of Bang Energy beverages in the United States.
A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology examines the links between coffee brewing methods and risks of heart attacks and death and suggests that filtered coffee is safest.
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A protein called phytochrome B, which can sense light and temperature, triggers plant growth and controls flowering time. How it does so is not fully understood.