Bacteria proven to be worth their salt

24 June, 2018

As climate change and rising population threaten food security, farmers are under pressure to increase crop yields on marginal lands, such as deserts. Such agriculture requires intensive irrigation, often with highly saline groundwater, and the land can rapidly become salinized to levels inhibiting crop growth.

There is an urgent need to develop crops that can tolerate environmental stresses, including salinity, drought and extreme temperatures. Heribert Hirt’s research team at KAUST have found a novel way to do this, exploiting the natural capacity of certain bacteria to stimulate crop growth.

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Image: Scanning confocal micrograph of the root surface (red) of the study plant colonized by SA187 (green).
© 2017 Lukas Synek