Saturday 27 July 2013

Plants that eat air

Excellent news from nearby in the Midlands. Nottingham University has developed a way to have a plant draw the fertiliser it needs straight out of the air. It's done by bonding a proven-safe bacteria into the cells of seemingly any plant. Clover and soybeans already benefit naturally from such an alliance with air-munching bacteria. If it works and if it means even a third less fertilizer is needed, then it could have a real impact.

Some caution needed on this press-release perhaps, since the team has published no new academic paper on the topic since 2006 and their last conference poster was in 2009. Since Nottingham are commercialising it as N-Fix perhaps they've been quietly slogging through the patents system for the last few years? But then why does the press release have no supporting quotes from other scientists? Maybe it's just due to the incredibly lazy science journalism / public-sector PR we get these days, but you might have thought that the Nottingham team would have included a few independent quotes.

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