Using Nature’s Resources for More Sustainable Agriculture
Nitrogen runoff from fertilizer use wreaks havoc on our ecosystem. Higher levels of nitrogen lead to the over-enriching of bodies of water with phosphates which can destroy native aquatic life and can cause the overgrowth of harmful algae that produce dangerous toxins. Previous research revealed that boreal forest systems get their nitrogen from symbiotic cyanobacteria, which fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it accessible for plants. JCVI scientists are examining the evolutionary history of this symbiosis using genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and NanoSIMS. Their goal is to reverse engineer this system in an effort to modify crop plants that can recruit cyanobacteria from the environment to replace harmful fertilizer and achieve more sustainable agriculture practices.