SINGAPORE TEAM: MICROBES BOOST PLANT GROWTH BETTER THAN FERTILIZER
Researchers in Singapore are studying how high-tech urban farmers can produce more crops with fewer chemical fertilizers by exploiting microbes from common Asian vegetable plants and their genetic material in the soil using a technique called metagenomics.
The scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) discovered microbes that could benefit the vegetables by providing nutrients, stimulating growth, and suppressing pathogens, a April 1, 2021 report carried by Futurity and backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) stressed.
The team plans to build on this research in the future in order to cultivate these microbes which could sustainably improve crop production and increase food security.
Using a supercomputer, the researchers identified almost 300 species of bacteria and a group of single-celled, bacteria-like organisms known as archaea.
From the data, they found that the microbes could potentially benefit the vegetables by providing nutrients, stimulating growth, and suppressing pathogens.
The findings of the four-year study appear in the journal Scientific Data.
“We have seen how food supply chains are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, we need urgent reformative actions to build greater food resilience and security. Through this study, we are taking the first step towards building innovative solutions to boost local production in a highly sustainable manner,” says Pavagadhi Shruti, the senior manager of the team who led the field sampling and laboratory work.
Building upon their research, the team will be conducting detailed studies to identify the best microbial strains for enhancing crop production. They also hope their findings will encourage further research to understand how micro-organisms enhance crop growth and find new ways to cultivate these micro-organisms.