(Sheffield University) Scientists have discovered maize crops emit chemical signals to attract growth promoting microbes to their roots, which boosts performance and could combat world food shortages.
The groundbreaking research – the first chemical signal that has been shown to attract the beneficial bacteria – could reduce agricultural reliance on fertilisers and pesticides across the globe.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, who collaborated on the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded project, discovered that maize crops emit chemical signals which attract growth-promoting microbes to live amongst their roots.
Dr Andrew Neal, who co-led the research, said: “We have known for a while that certain plants exude chemicals from their roots that attract other organisms to the area. In fact, the environment around a plant´s roots teems with microorganisms and populations of bacterial cells can be up to 100 times denser around roots than elsewhere.