Science Daily - Organic Foods

New light shed on how plants get their nitrogen fix

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.

Organic food provides significant environmental benefits to plant-rich diets

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.

How microbes cope in phosphorus-deficient tropical soil

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.

Climate change: Soil animals cannot explain self-reinforcing effect

When the soil warms up, it releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) -- an effect that further fuels climate change. Until now, it had been assumed that the reason for this was mainly due to the presence of small soil animals and microorganisms that would eat and breathe more in warmer temperatures. However, a new study has shown that this is not the case. Quite the contrary: If warmth is accompanied by drought, the soil animals eat even less.

Life under the surface in live broadcast

Researchers have invented new systems to study the life of microorganisms in the ground. Without any digging, the researchers are able use microchips to see and analyze an invisible world that is filled with more species than any other ecosystem.

Earthworms can reproduce in Mars soil simulant

Two young worms are the first offspring in a Mars soil experiment. A biologist found them in a Mars soil simulant that he obtained from NASA. At the start he only added adult worms. The experiments are crucial in the study that aims to determine whether people can keep themselves alive at the red planet by growing their own crops on Mars soils.

Easing the soil's temperature

Many factors influence the ability of soil to buffer against temperature changes. Recent research shows both perennial biofuel and cover crops help soils shield against extreme temperatures.