Scientists from the University of California Davis are offering a
sustainable alternative agricultural practice that can reduce the use of
excessive nitrogenfertilizers by modifying cereal plants to produce more
chemicals to fix atmospheric nitrogen gas â?? the same chemicals used by
soil bacteria that does the same.
The scientists first identified compounds in rice plants that boosted
the nitrogen-fixing activity of the bacteria using chemical screening
and genomics. They followed this with the identification of pathways
that generate the chemicals, and then usedgene editingto increase the
production of the compounds responsible for the formation of biofilms
that had the bacteria that increased nitrogen conversion. This resulted
to the improvement of the nitrogen fixing activity and the increase of
ammonium in the soil for the plant. Moreover, the scientists said that
the same pathway can be used by other plants.
This discovery can potentially reduce nitrogen pollution in the
environment, decrease the likelihood of water contamination, and
decrease greenhouse gas emissions. It can also help increase farmers'
incomes by reducing their fertilizer input costs.