Chemical Engineers from Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed microbes coated with a metal-phenol network (MPN) that contains a combination of manganese and a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) to improve seed germination and shelf life during transportation.
Long-term use of chemical fertilizers will not just contribute to carbon emissions but also contribute to the depletion of soil nutrients. To address this, farmers use microbial fertilizers to minimize the use of chemical fertilizers. However, this method is expensive for many farmers, and the transportation of materials is not viable due to its limited shelf life and susceptibility to heat damage.
Thus, MIT researchers have developed 12 metal-phenol networks (MPNs) containing Pseudomonas chlororaphis, a nitrogen-fixing bacterium that controls and protects crops from harmful fungi and pests. The study results show that these coatings kept the microbes alive during the freeze-drying process and improved the seed germination rate by 150%.