University of Guelph research rooted in traditional seeds and driven by contemporary science is helping plants produce their own all-important nitrogen.
University of Guelph research rooted in traditional seeds and driven by contemporary science is helping plants produce their own all-important nitrogen. The findings could lead to a more sustainable way to provide crops with the nitrogen boost they need.
A plant must have nitrogen to grow, but it can’t produce the essential element on its own, said lead researcher Prof. Manish Raizada in the Department of Plant Agriculture. Nitrogen fertilizer is the preferred way to feed it to plants, but there may be an alternative.
The research is focused on specific microbes in plants that are capable of converting nitrogen in the atmosphere into plant food. Infusing seeds with optimal nitrogen-producing microbes has the potential to significantly reduce or even replace the traditional method of manufacturing nitrogen fertilizer, which is a major contributor of greenhouse gases.
Raizada said the production of nitrogen fertilizer may be possible through a more environmentally sustainable microbial bioreactor process, whereby air is fed to microbes and nitrogen plant food is produced. He envisions a time when seeds coated with probiotic microbes and microbial sprays for soil could become commercial products.
Read more at University of Guelph
Image: This is Prof. Manish Raizada. (Credit: University of Guelph)