The French Institute for Research and Development (IRD) collaborated with Senegalese teams to better understand the interactions between soil bacteria and legume crops.
Their latest discovery highlights a natural exchange mechanism that could reduce the use of chemical inputs. It appears that the channels allowing soil pathogens to infect plants also serve as a means of communication for the plants.
Plants could “adopt” certain functions of rhizobium bacteria capable of converting and assimilating atmospheric nitrogen. Normally, plants cannot assimilate the nitrogen molecule in the air due to its triple bond, but scientists have discovered that they have established a connection with soil bacteria to benefit from their ability to do so.
Eric Giraud, a microbiologist at the IRD’s Plant Health Institute of Montpellier (PHIM), suggests that this avenue is promising. It would allow legumes such as soybeans or cowpeas to be more productive in poor soils. These are important protein sources for populations in the South.
Source: Le Mag IRD