Thursday, September 10, 2009

This is the kind of research we need if farming is to become truly scientific:

"What is the importance of the involvement of microbes in plants? It hasn't really been examined," Bais notes. "We think that plants are doing everything on their own, but there is a whole world of microbes underground, associated with the roots of plants, that has yet to be analyzed."

Scientists have long known the symbiotic relationship between legume plants such as beans and the bacteria known as rhizobia that colonize the plants' roots and enable the plants to convert nitrogen from the air into fertilizer.

More recently, in research reported last fall, Bais and his colleagues showed that when the leaves of the small flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana were infected by a pathogen, the plant secreted an acid to recruit beneficial bacteria in the soil (Bacillus subtilis) to come to its defense.
Harsh Bais is a Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at University of Delaware.



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