Scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University have uncovered the genes that enable plants to interact with beneficial soil dwelling fungi and to access phosphate delivered to the roots by these fungi -- a first step, they say, toward enhancing the beneficial relationship for crop plants , while reducing fertilizer use and phosphate pollution in the environment.
Discovery of the phosphate-transport genes was announced today (July 28, 2004) by Maria Harrison, a senior scientist at the Ithaca, N.Y.-based research institute, during the American Society of Plant Biologists annual meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
She said considerable work lies ahead before scientists learn to exploit the genetic discovery and harness the potential of this naturally occurring, symbiotic fungus-plant association, but that the payoff to growers and to the environment could be substantial: more efficient plant growth with less phosphorus-based fertilizer, and a subsequent reduction of phosphate runoff in surface water.
Brian Hyps | EurekAlert!
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