Synthetic Biology: Engineered Plants Create Their Own Fertilizer

See on Scoop.itTracking the Future

Since man discovered agriculture, farmers have used ingenious ways to pump more nitrogen into crop fields; farmers have planted legumes and plowed the entire crop under, strewn night soil or manure on the fields, shipped in bat dung from islands in the Pacific or saltpeter from Chilean mines and plowed in glistening granules of synthetic fertilizer made in chemical plants. 
A new Washington University in St. Louis project seeks to miniaturize, automate and relocate the chemical apparatus for nitrogen fixation within the plant so nitrogen is available when and where it is needed — and only then and there.
“That would really revolutionize agriculture,” said Himadri Pakrasi, PhD, the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor, in Arts&Sciences, and director of the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES) at Washington University in St. Louis.

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