Published Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Plant reduces need for fertilizer,
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Researchers of the University of Nottingham in the U.K., have discovered how a protein in plant roots controls the uptake of minerals and water; a finding which could improve the tolerance of crops to climate change and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
The research shows that members of the blue copper proteins family, the Uclacyanins are vital in the formation of Casparian strips.
These strips are essential structures that control mineral nutrients and water use efficiencies by forming tight seals between cells in plants, blocking nutrients and water leaking between.
This is the first evidence showing the implications of this family in the biosynthesis of lignin, one of the most abundant organic polymers on earth. This study reveals that the molecular machinery required for Casparian strip lignin deposition is highly ordered by forming nano-domains which can have a huge impact on plant nutrition, a finding that could help in the development of crops that are efficient in taking in the nutrients they need.
Food security represents a pressing global issue. Crop production must double by 2050 to keep pace with global population growth. This target is even more challenging given the impact of climate change on water availability and the drive to reduce fertilizer inputs to make agriculture more environmentally sustainable. In both cases, developing crops with improved water and nutrient uptake efficiency would provide a solution.
"This research is important in revealing the molecular mechanisms underpinning efforts to improve mineral nutrient and water use efficiencies and enhanced stress tolerance, making crops more able to withstand flooding, drought, nutrient deficiencies and trace element toxicities," said lead project researcher, Guilhem Reyt from the School of Biosciences and Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham.
Such improvements in agricultural and horticultural crops could also potentially benefit subsistence farmers with limited access to inorganic fertilizers which include nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, sulphur and magnesium.
This would help to reduce the cost fertilizers impose and reduce the environmental and ecological damage their production and excess use causes. Improved water use efficiency and stress tolerance will also improve yields for subsistence farmers cultivating marginal lands.
Could the discovery improve food quality by reducing toxic trace elements in food crops? We would
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