Home pagePress monitoringBacterial superheroes may save the day for crops

Bacterial superheroes may save the day for crops

Date: 9.2.2018 

The bacterium SA187 has been isolated from the root nodules of an indigenous desert plant that grows in Saudi Arabia. The KAUST team found it has many genes that promote plant growth in stressful environments. 
Kredit: KAUST.

Their finding is part of a KAUST project called DARWIN21, which aims to explore the microbial diversity of desert plants and examine their potential for use in improving agricultural sustainability in drylands and marginal areas.

"We were surprised to find tens of bacteria from completely different taxa that are able to help a variety of plants grow better under abiotic stress conditions," says plant scientist Heribert Hirt.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates farmers will need to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world's growing population. At the same time, 70 percent of global annual food production is lost due to challenges from various biotic (pathogens, insects, herbivores) and abiotic (drought, heat, cold) factors, explains Hirt.

Crops need to be more stress resistant, but genetic engineering and crop breeding technologies take a long time to develop and they can't immediately serve the people who need food the most: subsistence farmers who eat what they farm.

"So we need fast and low-cost solutions that are affordable and accessible to everyone on the planet," says Hirt. The DARWIN21 project aims to find bacteria that can help crops become resistant to the most prominent abiotic stresses that are responsible for 60 percent of the loss in crop productivity, he says.

 


 

OPPI, MPO, EU
Czech Bio

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