Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nitrogen-tracking tools for better crops and less pollution

19.02.2014
As every gardner knows, nitrogen is crucial for a plant's growth. But nitrogen absorption is inefficient.

This means that on the scale of food crops, adding significant levels of nitrogen to the soil through fertilizer presents a number of problems, particularly river and groundwater pollution.


The NiTrac sensor developed by Cheng Hsun Ho and Wolf Frommer of the Carnegie Institution for Science will enable non-invasive real-time monitoring of nitrogen acquisition in action in plant roots, providing a new tool set that can be used to improve nitrogen efficiency. The novel sensor technology is widely applicable and useful also for cancer and neurobiology.

Credit: Cheng Hsun Ho and Wolf Frommer

As a result, finding a way to improve nitrogen uptake in agricultural products could improve yields and decrease risks to environmental and human health. Nitrogen is primarily taken up from the soil by the roots and assimilated by the plant to become part of DNA, proteins, and many other compounds.

Uptake is controlled by a number of factors, including availability, demand, and the plant's energy status. But there is much about the transport proteins involved in the process that isn't understood. New work from Carnegie's Cheng-Hsun Ho and Wolf Frommer developed tools that could help scientists observe the nitrogen-uptake process in real time and could lead to developments that improve agriculture and the environment. It will be published by eLife on March 11 and is already available online.

Frommer had previously developed technology to spy on transport protein activity by using fluorescent tags in a cell's DNA to monitor the structural rearrangements that a transporter undergoes as it moves its target molecule. They tailored this technology to five nitrogen transport targets to monitor the nitrogen uptake and assimilation process.

"We engineered these sensors to monitor the activity and regulation of suspected nitrogen transporters in living plant roots, which otherwise are impossible to study," Frommer said. "This suite of tools will vastly improve our understanding of the nitrogen-uptake process and will help to develop increased crop yields and decrease fertilizer-caused pollution."

Their method is applicable to any transporter from any organism, thereby enabling the otherwise exceptionally difficult analysis of transport processes in the tissues of plants and animals.

This work was funded by the NSF

Wolf Frommer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.carnegiescience.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Fingerprinting erosion
03.09.2015 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Increasingly severe disturbances weaken world's temperate forests
31.08.2015 | USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Hubble survey unlocks clues to star birth in neighboring galaxy

In a survey of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope images of 2,753 young, blue star clusters in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy (M31), astronomers have found that M31 and our own galaxy have a similar percentage of newborn stars based on mass.

By nailing down what percentage of stars have a particular mass within a cluster, or the Initial Mass Function (IMF), scientists can better interpret the light...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact Inverter for Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Silicon Carbide Components Enable Efficiency of 98.7 percent

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have developed a highly compact and efficient inverter for use in uninterruptible power...

Im Focus: How wind sculpted Earth's largest dust deposit

China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from University of Arizona geoscientists. The study is the first to explain how the steep-fronted plateau formed.

China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from...

Im Focus: An engineered surface unsticks sticky water droplets

The leaves of the lotus flower, and other natural surfaces that repel water and dirt, have been the model for many types of engineered liquid-repelling surfaces. As slippery as these surfaces are, however, tiny water droplets still stick to them. Now, Penn State researchers have developed nano/micro-textured, highly slippery surfaces able to outperform these naturally inspired coatings, particularly when the water is a vapor or tiny droplets.

Enhancing the mobility of liquid droplets on rough surfaces could improve condensation heat transfer for power-plant heat exchangers, create more efficient...

Im Focus: Increasingly severe disturbances weaken world's temperate forests

Longer, more severe, and hotter droughts and a myriad of other threats, including diseases and more extensive and severe wildfires, are threatening to transform some of the world's temperate forests, a new study published in Science has found. Without informed management, some forests could convert to shrublands or grasslands within the coming decades.

"While we have been trying to manage for resilience of 20th century conditions, we realize now that we must prepare for transformations and attempt to ease...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Together - Work - Experience

03.09.2015 | Event News

Networking conference in Heidelberg for outstanding mathematicians and computer scientists

20.08.2015 | Event News

Scientists meet in Münster for the world’s largest Chitin und Chitosan Conference

20.08.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ion implanted, co-annealed, screen-printed 21% efficient n-PERT solar cells with a bifaciality >97%

04.09.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Casting of SiSiC: new perspectives for chemical and plant engineering

04.09.2015 | Machine Engineering

Extremely thin ceramic components made possible by extrusion

04.09.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>