Scientists from Brigham Young University (BYU) have successfully inoculated
alfalfa with salt tolerant bacteria, a breakthrough in the fight to reverse
falling crop yields caused by increasingly salty farmlands around the world.
Led by Brent Nielsen, professor of microbiology and molecular biology, the
BYU research team used bacteria found in the roots of salt tolerant plants
to successfully inoculate alfalfa plants against overly salty soil.
According to Nielsen, they took the roots of the salt tolerant plants,
ground them, and grew the bacteria in the lab. They were able to collect
more than 40 different bacteria isolates, some of which tolerate ocean-level
The scientists found two bacteria isolates, Halomonas and Bacillus, that
could stimulate plant growth in the presence of 1 percent sodium chloride
(salt), a level that significantly inhibits the growth of uninoculated
plants. This breakthrough is significant as soils in some areas in China,
Australia, and the Middle East have grown increasingly salty, as well as
major farmland in the southwest United States.