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Biotech Science

Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria That Can Colonize Most Plants Discovered 187

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the watch-out-for-miracle-gro-assassins dept.
Zothecula writes "Synthetic crop fertilizers are a huge source of pollution. This is particularly true when they're washed from fields (or leach out of them) and enter our waterways. Unfortunately, most commercial crops need the fertilizer, because it provides the nitrogen that they require to survive. Now, however, a scientist at the University of Nottingham has developed what he claims is an environmentally-friendly process, that allows virtually any type of plant to obtain naturally-occurring nitrogen directly from the atmosphere." The process involves injecting a bacteria that colonizes the plant and fixes atmospheric nitrogen in exchange for a bit of sugar, similar to soybeans. Only this bacteria will readily colonize most any plant.
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Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria That Can Colonize Most Plants Discovered

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  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:04PM (#44419223)
    Seriously? What's wrong with using nitrogen fixing plants to fill the soil with nitrogen? Yeah .. it's much more fun to engineer your own plant effects but it can have unknown side effects. If you're going to try to get rid of artificial fertilizers, shouldn't you be ensuring that your solution is sustainable? Creating and distributing large quantities of bacteria with unknown long term effects is not a known quantity and hence .. is not a sustainable solution.

    May as well keep spraying artificial fertilizers, at least we know how that degrades the soil.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:15PM (#44419277)

    Well we can start by getting rid of cemetaries and graveyards, and stop cremating people. Definitely stop embalming them. Dead animal bodies are an excellent source of phosphorus as well as many other fertilizers, and lots of people die every single day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:16PM (#44419283)

    If people used sustainable practices -- cover crops, rotating or mixing in nitrogen-fixing plants, etc. -- then exactly how would chemical companies benefit?

  • Re:Let me guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Monday July 29, 2013 @11:48PM (#44419759)

    GMO, Devil, Evil, Bad, KILLING HUMANITY!!! Organic Only!!!!!!!!

    Oh, but this was discovered in Europe, or at least England, so its ok. No problem.

    Unless or until its licensed exclusively by Monsanto, then, EVIL AGAIN!

  • Re:Quick! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Monday July 29, 2013 @11:55PM (#44419781) Homepage Journal

    Oh god, we already are! (It's called grass.)

    A little more seriously, they're doing field trials now, so we'll probably know soon enough.

    As far as I can tell, the process is clumsy enough (the seeds have to be pre-impregnated in the lab with the bacteria) that this is a rather small risk.

  • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @12:02AM (#44419821)

    Exactly.

    Because its not the nitrogen fixing that is the problem, its all the other side effects of artificial fertilization that we could avoid.
    As it is, some crop land gets planted in clover or alfalfa once in a while to fix nitrogen in the soil.

    By the way Alfalfa [wikipedia.org] already fixes nitrogen with the help of a bacteria:

    Like other legumes, its root nodules contain bacteria, Sinorhizobium meliloti, with the ability to fix nitrogen, producing a high-protein feed regardless of available nitrogen in the soil.[17] Its nitrogen-fixing ability (which increases soil nitrogen) and its use as an animal feed greatly improve agricultural efficiency.

    So this discovery is actually nothing new, just a more versatile strain of bacteria.

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