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News: Madison scientists study genetic engineering of microbes to reduce reliance on fertilizers.

A team of bacteriologists and plant scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has authored a paper delving into the concept of employing genetic engineering to foster mutualistic interactions between plants and nitrogen-fixing microbes known as diazotrophs.


These engineered associations could enable crops to access nitrogen from the air, emulating the mutually beneficial relationships observed in legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Diazotrophs encompass various soil bacteria and archaea that naturally convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium, a valuable plant nutrient source.

While such symbiotic interactions are common in certain plant species, they are limited in both variety and crop applications. To address this limitation, scientists are exploring genetic modification approaches that enhance nitrogen fixation in non-legume crops, such as engineering both plants and nitrogen-fixing microbes to bolster mutualistic associations.

Despite the potential benefits, the authors acknowledge the complexities of genetic modification and emphasize the importance of addressing public acceptance and implementing biocontainment measures to prevent the spread of transgenic material into natural ecosystems.

Research on genetic engineering of plants and nitrogen-fixing microbes is a rapidly developing area. The use of synthetic fertilizers for cannabis is a major source of water and air pollution, it is possible that, in the future, this technology could be used to improve the sustainability of cannabis cultivation. Further research is needed to validate these innovative agricultural strategies under real-world field conditions.

Source: Farmtario


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