Redrawing the global map of crop distribution on existing farmland could help meet growing demand for food and biofuels in coming decades, while significantly reducing water stress in agricultural areas, according to a new study. Published today in Nature Geoscience, the study is the first to attempt to address both food production needs and resource sustainability simultaneously and at a global scale.
The results show that “there are a lot of places where there are inefficiencies in water use and nutrient production,” says lead author Kyle Davis, a postdoctoral researcher with Columbia University‘s Earth Institute. Those inefficiencies could be fixed, he says, by swapping in crops that have greater nutritional quality and lower environmental impact.
Though it may look haphazard, the network of intertwining plant roots snaking through the soil actually represents a deliberate process. Root growth is guided by chemical snapshots taken by the young roots, allowing them to detect obstructions and coordinate the paths they take, new research led by Florida Institute of Technology finds.
A sophisticated mechanism that allows plant roots to quickly respond to changes in soil conditions has been identified by an international research team.
Scientists from the John Innes Centre and Sapienza University, Rome, combined mathematical and computer modelling with molecular genetics to show how roots can regulate their growth via the interactions of two antagonistic hormones, auxin and cytokinin.
Scientists at the John Innes Centre have identified a unique mechanism that the soil dwelling bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens uses to effectively exploit nutrients in the root environment.
The breakthrough offers multiple new applications, for the study of human pathogens, for synthetic biology, and for the productions of biosensors which help detect biological changes in plants and their environment.