Kim Holder
Why have i got a bad feeling about this... If this was such a great natural advantage, wouldn't it have spread throughout the plant kingdom a long time ago?
This is really big and a great approach too. It is much better than just putting the genes in the plant to fix nitrogen. If they did that instead and they proliferated it could reduce the volume of the atmosphere leading to increases in radiation and very cold nights. Oxygen would not pose a problem...with the increased plant life there would probably be a small increase in oxygen. Also, as theoretical maximum tree height is a function of atmospheric pressure it would mean the tops of the very tall trees would die. Trees would not be able to grow as high under less atmospheric pressure. They would get xylem embolisms lower than they do now (max height now is about 130m), water can only be pulled so high. Some can cheat a little bit collecting moisture from the air or by only getting water to the top on high pressure days but that only gets a few more scraggly meters. It also might mean that aquatic mammals and birds may be able to dive deeper because of reduced nitrogen bubbles. Unknown, but probably Minimal ecosystem effects from that. With less air pressure it might increase evaporation making the air more humid on average and combined with the cooling at night lead to frequent night rain.
But as long as we have to soak the seed and the plant's subsequent generations don't retain the bacteria, things should be great...we don't really grow that much vegetation.
Does lead one to wonder why more plants are not doing this already. I hope there is not a good reason. I also wonder if it will accelerate spoilage as bacteria are part of that equation.
This does sound fantastic though.
I am not convinced that spreading a South American bacteria around the world is a better idea than over fertilization.
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
Congratulations. I hope for all the best that this is a big step towards sustainability.
Now to find a solution for phosphate fertilizers...
The oil company would never allow this. Dream on.
MINDBREAKER: the idea that plant fixing nitrogen would somehow make our atmosphere thinner is ludicrous. Our atmosphere is approximately 5.5 quadrillion tons, and 78% nitrogen. Any effect on atmosphere density due to this symbiotic bacteria infecting every single plant on earth would still be negligible, perhaps not even measurable. Do some math before you start fear mongering. The question I have is what is the cost to the plant in having to feed this symbiot in exchange for the nitrogen. Sugarcane has lots of extra energy in the form of the sugar the plant it produces. Corn, wheat, vegetables may grow smaller or produce less if the energy requirements of symbiosis are too high.
SLOWBURN: While this process avoids needing to engineer the plants, it also opens possibility for cross contamination. Though it does seem a negligible worry, in my opinion, as the seed must be inoculated for the plant to achieve the symbiosis. Any reduction in field fertilization is an environmental bonus, and a hopeful way to combat ocean dead zones caused by fertilizer runoff.
re; Chizzy
I have seen the results of too many well intentioned specie introductions to think that this time it will go as planned.
Wave harvesting machines that splash water around aerate the water which will fix the nutrient caused ocean dead zones. For steams and rivers use under shot waterwheels and you can generate electricity at the same time as you aerate.
Slowburn: I too am wary of introduced non native species, and would actually prefered the plant to be gene spliced instead of massive release of a 'beneficial' bacteria. I have no problem with genetic engineering, my problem is that plants are being engineered to be able to survive increase pesticide use. To me that seems exactly the wrong solution to engineer for. I'd much rather see a plant engineered so that it needed no added pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers. Corn, wheat, soy, rice, potato, tomato, ect would all benefit from being engineered to hardiness levels and there would be no worry of the engineered genes jumping into other species like a bacterium could.
This is great, but certainly not new! Making the use, though, of just the one nitrogen fixing microbe to improve yield and nutrient levels, solves only part of the soil puzzle. Biosoil LLC in Hattiesburg Mississippi, in conjunction with MSU have successfully developed a polymicrobial product labelled SumaGrow, which has this particular microbe along with many others that work in symbiosis to greatly improve plant health. this product is now available in over 40 countries from Zambia to Costa Rica. Check it out here:
Slowburn: I can't tell if you're trolling or not but whatevs. The undershot vs. overshot waterwheel debate was settled by John Smeaton in 1759; overshot wheels are twice as efficient as undershot ones. Get with the times.
Also, wave harvesting machines (of which very have been installed) splashing around and causing ocean dead zones? If that were true the splashing around that naturally occurring ocean waves create would have dead zones almost everywhere, not just where fertiliser runoff has created algal or cyanobacterial blooms that deoxygenate the water and kill everything...