Monday, August 21, 2017

Tiny Organisms Could Help Crops Endure Droughts

Microbes could help plants thrive even as the climate changes.

Indigo Agriculture Reseachers (Image graphic Credit: David McCarthy. Photos: Indigo Agriculture) Click to Enlarge.
There’s more to a lush green plant than meets the eye.  Armies of tiny organisms called microbes live on and in leaves, stems, and roots.  They help plants absorb nutrients, fight disease, and endure stresses like drought.

Now, a biotech startup called Indigo Agriculture is harnessing microbes to help farmers increase crop yields.  The company collects microbes from plants around the world and identifies which ones help in drought conditions.  For example, some microbes help plants retain water or stimulate root growth.

Indigo makes seed coatings using those microbes, which enter the plant’s tissue as it grows. Last year, the company launched a microbe-coated cotton seed.

Marquez:  “The results were very encouraging.  We saw on average eleven percent increase in yield in west Texas, our target area.”

That’s Luis Marquez, senior scientist at Indigo.  As droughts and extreme heat make growing food harder, he says there’s a need to develop crops that can thrive in these conditions.

Read more at Tiny Organisms Could Help Crops Endure Droughts

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