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Feb 26, 2010

Discovery in Legume Genes Could Reduce Fertilizer

Stanford University has announced that a discovery in legumes could reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers and thus environmental damage caused by excess fertilizer use.

Led molecular biologist Dr. Sharon Long, the Stanford research team studied how symbiotic bacteria living in legumes turn nitrogen into plant food. Legumes have a specialized protein processing system that generates protein signals and allows for nitrogen fixation. The team's main discovery was that the legume plant gene triggers a “critical chemical signal. Without the signal, no nitrogen gets fixed by the bacteria.”

Photo credit: Soybean nodules containing bacteria that help with nitrogen fixation, courtesy of Kansas State University, Research and Extension Service, Kid's Field Day, Crops, Soybeans.

 For more see: Bergeron, Louis. “Discovery of Legumes Could Reduce Fertilizer Use, Aid Environment, Say Stanford Researchers,” Stanford University News, 26 Feb. 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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