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UK & USA scientists collaborate to design crops of the future
Date:8/21/2013

is as a first step towards transferring the machinery, and thus the ability to fix nitrogen, into plants themselves. This will require identifying and transferring the genes responsible for nitrogen fixation as well as alterations to cellular processes.

Devaki Bhaya, Carnegie Institution for Science, said: "Nature has given us a toolbox of functional units that we can use to build complex biological modules. The goal is to use these to build a novel synthetic nitrogen fixing unit that can be transferred to other hosts and ultimately give plants new functionality. It could mean the crops of the future will be able to make use of the nitrogen around us without needing fertilisers."

The project will combine efforts from Carnegie Institution of Science with the skills of John Golbeck (Pennsylvania State University), Christopher Voigt (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Susan Rosser (University of Edinburgh) and Bill Rutherford (Imperial College London).

$5.09M to engineer synthetic relationships between plants and bacteria

Some plants have developed close symbiotic relationships with bacteria. These bacteria are held in root nodules and convert the nitrogen gas found abundantly in the air into nitrogen fertiliser that plants need for growth. Researchers hope to transfer this nitrogen-fixing process into important crops to deliver nitrogen without using artificial fertilisers.

The researchers will genetically alter a nitrogen-fixing bacterium and a simple grass species, which is similar to more complex cereals such as maize, to ensure a lock-and-key interaction between plant and microbe, while maximizing nitrogen fixation by the bacterium and the amount of usable nitrogen delivered to the plant.

The bacterium will be genetically tuned to respond to plant signals and nutritional needs to control the production of nitrogen fertiliser for the plant.

Once the researchers have perfected the techniqu
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Contact: Chris Melvin
chris.melvin@bbsrc.ac.uk
01-793-414-694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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