Friday, 4 November 2011

Arsenic-eating bacteria may boost food production

Physorg.com reports that arsenic-resisting bacteria could greatly improve cleanups of toxic environments and potentially boost agricultural production, according to a new University of Florida study. The bacteria were found in arsenic-contaminated soil surrounding the Chinese brake fern, a plant known for its ability to remove arsenic, a deadly, carcinogenic poison, from the environment.

After the scientists isolated bacteria from the soil, they added it to the fern’s growing environment in the laboratory where it broke arsenic down into a more available form readily absorbed by the fern. In addition to the increase in arsenic absorption, they also noted a gain in the uptake of the nutrient phosphorus by the fern, which led to better growth.

The researchers said that said more studies are needed to explore whether the bacteria can be widely used in agriculture.

Read the full article here.