Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Technology Enables Crops To Be Made Self-Fertilizing

Nitrogen fixation is the process by which nitrogen in the air is converted into ammonia to support the growth of the plants. However, only limited number of plants, such as peas, beans and lentils, have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil. Currently, synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is used to replenish the soil's nitrogen, which is expensive and creating plenty of environmental issues.

Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation in UK, has developed an unique technology of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonise all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant’s nitrogen needs.

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