Study shows that protein in plant roots could reduce the need for chemical fertilizers

Researchers have discovered how protein found in plant roots control the uptake of minerals and water. This finding could improve the tolerance of agricultural crops to climate change and lessen the demand for chemical fertilizers. 

The research, published in Current Biology, shows that Casparian strips are essential structures in plants that control mineral nutrient and water efficiencies by forming tight seals between cells in plants, blocking water and nutrients from leaking in between, thus also providing protection for the plant. 

According to Guilhem Reyt from the School of Biosciences and Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham who led the research, the findings are important in revealing the molecular mechanics to improve mineral nutrient, water use efficiencies as well as stress tolerance to make crops more able to withstand flooding, drought, nutrient deficiencies, and even trace element toxicities. 

Such improvements in both agricultural and horticultural crops also have the potential to benefit subsistence farmers with limited access to inorganic fertilizers and reduce their costs. 

Reyt added that an understanding of how roots acquire necessary trace elements and minerals should provide an important molecular process that could eventually improve food quality. 

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