We might think of roots as necessary, but uninteresting, parts of the crop production process. New research, however, focuses on what's going on in the soil with the plant's roots and the chemicals they produce.
Drained fertile peatlands around the globe are hotspots for the atmospheric emission of laughing-gas - a powerful greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide, which is partly responsible for global warming and destruction of the ozone layer, a new study shows.
Rare plant species suffer more from disease than commoner species. The fact that rare species are more susceptible to attack by micro-organisms living in the soil, such as fungi and bacteria, may in fact be one of the reasons they are rare. Biologists have been trying to work out why some species are rare, while others are common, since Darwin's time and a new study provides a possible answer.
Unique soils data from long-term experiments, stretching back to the middle of the nineteenth century, confirm the practical implausibility of burying carbon in the ground to halt climate change. The idea of using crops to collect more atmospheric carbon and locking it into soil's organic matter to offset fossil fuel emissions was launched at COP21, the 21st annual Conference of Parties to review the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2015.
Legumes are widely-consumed plants that use soil bacteria to obtain nitrogen through root nodulation. The process is energetically costly, and so legumes inhibit nodulation when soil nitrate is available. However, the mechanism that drives this inhibition is unknown. Researchers found that NRSYM1 is responsible for inhibiting nodulation in the presence of nitrate, and acts by directly regulating gene expression. The findings may aid agricultural efforts to improve the crop efficiency of legumes.
A study of the diets of 34,000 people confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. This is the first-ever study to look at the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems.
Researchers have uncovered how certain soil microbes cope in a phosphorus-poor environment to survive in a tropical ecosystem. Their novel approach could be applied in other ecosystems to study various nutrient limitations and inform agriculture and terrestrial biosphere modeling.