The abundance of crops such as wheat, cotton, tomato and cucumber can be boosted through the controlled use of salt-loving bacteria, a new study reveals.
Researchers have isolated salt-tolerant bacterial strains that live in salt-degraded soils, where they help the rooting process in plants. From this, trials have been undertaken in Uzbekistan. Through the controlled use of such bacteria, the researchers claim that crop yields can be improved by 10 to 15 per cent.
The problem with excessive salt in soil is that it inhibits "nodulation," the development of tiny nodules on plants' roots, where nitrogen fixation occurs. Nitrogen is critical for plant growth. One way to reduce the level of salt is to "seed" the soil with bacteria that can digest the salt.
Specifically, the researchers found that bacteria from the Pseudomonas family, in particular Pseudomonas extremorientalis, are salt-resistant and grow close to the roots, where they compete with other bacteria for colonization. Such bacteria make for ideal additives to salty soils.
The research has been carried out at the National University of Uzbekistan, at Tashkent. The results will be presented at the results of the TWAS 24th General Meeting in Buenos Aires.
TWAS, the world academy of sciences, is an international science academy, founded in 1983 in Trieste, Italy, by a distinguished group of scientists from the South under the leadership of the late Nobel laureate Abdus Salam of Pakistan. It was officially launched by the secretary-general of the United Nations in 1985.