Nitrogen-fixing cereals a step nearer
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CTA. 1989. Nitrogen-fixing cereals a step nearer. Spore 19. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45001
Every farmer's dream of growing cereals that fix atmospheric nitrogen in the same way as leguminous plants has come a step nearer. Scientists at Nottingham University, UK, have successfully persuaded rice plants to grow nodules. For decades...
Every farmer's dream of growing cereals that fix atmospheric nitrogen in the same way as leguminous plants has come a step nearer. Scientists at Nottingham University, UK, have successfully persuaded rice plants to grow nodules. For decades scientists have been working to extend N-fixing ability to all food crops. Most of the work has cencentrated on transferring genes from leguminous plants to cereals. However at Nottingham University they have been taking a different approach. In the soil, rhizobia appear to be able to differentiate between the root hairs of leguminous and non-leguminous plants. Scientists at Nottingham have removed the cell walls from the tip of rice root hairs, by dipping them into a solution of enzymes. Rhizobia coming into contact with such root hairs do not seem to know that they are from non-leguminous plants, and have therefore interacted with the cells of the root cortex and formed nodules. At this stage it is certain whether these nodules will fix nitrogen. However, the work to date does show that the genes for interacting with rhizobium are already in the plants, but somehow they need to be switched on. Also, although the genetic manipulation is not permanent, it will help researchers in their next step of enabling plants to fix nitrogen. For more details, contact: Department of Botany - University of Nottingham - University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD UK