Bacteria Hope for Drought Crops
Story supplied by LU Press Office
Bacteria may be able to keep some plants growing through short periods of drought and save valuable crops from being lost.
New research from Lancaster University and the All Russia Research Institute for Agricultural Microbiology (ARRIAM) in St Petersburg has indicated that inoculation of crops with a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil may maintain plant growth and yield during short periods of drought.
Climate change, dwindling ground water levels and reduced river flows can mean that water is in short or intermittent supply in many crop-producing areas of the world.
Even in times of mild drought, crops send chemical stress signals from roots to shoots and leaves warning them to slow their rate of growth. This can result in a loss of up to 50 percent of the expected seed crop from the plants.
Research on pea and tomato crops has already shown some positive results. Now the Waitrose Centre - part of Lancaster University's Centre for Sustainable Agriculture - is set to carry out further research into the stress signalling mechanisms by which the soil bacteria may be able to keep shoots growing in drying soil.
The three-year project has been funded by £263,626 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
The principal investigators are Professor Bill Davies, Director of Lancaster University's Lancaster Environment Centre, and Dr Ian Dodd also of the LEC, working in collaboration with Dr Andrei Belimov of the ARRIAM.
Professor Davies said: "Our preliminary work funded by the Royal Society shows that these soil bacteria can keep plant shoots and roots growing at soil water contents where drought would otherwise restrict growth and development.
"Such results suggest that if we can keep roots growing to access more water and keep leaves growing, then we can continue to produce economically viable seed yield in drought-prone environments, or, importantly, reduce water use in agriculture without substantial yield penalty.
"This project will tell us more about the science behind this technology and as such the work will be highly relevant for agriculture."
Thu 09 February 2006
Lancaster University computer scientists are at the forefront of a UK-wide BBC initiative launched today to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.
Tue 07 July 2015
Over 200 pupils from eight schools across the North West got a taste of what it’s like to study STEM subjects at Lancaster University.
Wed 01 July 2015
Researchers at three top UK universities are developing new ways to simultaneously power and communicate with robots and other digitally connected devices – commonly known as the Internet of Things.
Mon 29 June 2015
An engineering student has received an award in the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Mechatronic Student of the Year contest.
Wed 10 June 2015