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New study finds biochar stimulates more plant growth but less plant defense
Date:3/31/2014

f a plant to withstand attack from pests and pathogens. These defence genes were consistently reduced following biochar application to the soil, for example jasmonic and salcyclic acid and ethylene, suggesting that crops grown on biochar may be more susceptible to attack by pests and pathogens.

This was a surprising finding and suggests that if reproduced in the field at larger scales, could have wide implications for the use of biochar on commercial crops.

Professor Taylor, who co-ordinated the research, says: "Our findings provide the very first insight into how biochar stimulates plant growth we now know that cell expansion is stimulated in roots and leaves alike and this appears to be the consequence of a complex signalling network that is focussed around two plant growth hormones. However, the finding for plant defence genes was entirely unpredicted and could have serious consequences for the commercial development and deployment of biochar in future. Any risk to agriculture is likely to prevent wide scale use of biochar and we now need to see which pest and pathogens are sensitive to the gene expression changes."


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Contact: Glenn Harris
G.Harris@soton.ac.uk
44-023-805-93212
University of Southampton
Source:Eurekalert  

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