Mining bacteria from the desert

06 February, 2019

​Bacteria isolated from the Saudi desert have demonstrated plant-growth-promoting properties that could make them useful as biofertilizers.

“The vast majority of deserts, especially in Saudi Arabia, have never been explored for agricultural potential,” says doctoral student, Abdul Aziz Eida, of KAUST’s Desert Agriculture Initiative. “Many people think deserts are sterile and inhospitable to any form of life. But there are many plants able to grow and survive in the harsh conditions found there. We believed that one of the key factors enabling plants to survive in such environments is their association with microbes in the soil.”

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Image: Samples of the plant Zygophyllum simplex, an annual plant adapted to growing in salty soil, were taken from Al Wahbah crater.
© 2018 Lukas Synek