SUPER VEGETABLES CREATED WITH BACTERIA FROM ANTARCTICA
AN ACADEMIC, WHO HAS WORKED IN THE WHITE CONTINENT, ACHIEVED A SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN MICROORGANISMS AND DIFFERENT VEGETABLES, GIVING THEM RESISTANCE CONDITIONS.
May 17, 2017
Blueberries able to withstand heavy frost in the winter of the Central Valley, vegetables that tolerate saline soils caused by the rising temperatures and the increasingly scarce rainfall, or that grow normally in situations of hydric stress or drought. They are the "super vegetables" developed by researchers from the Institute of Biological Sciences (ICB), which in the studies on the genetics of plants that survive the inclemencies of the Antarctic area, have succeeded in inoculating fruit trees and vegetables to give them unique development and environmental tolerance characteristics.
Marco Molina, a researcher at the ICB and head of this work, has already made seven trips to Antarctica to study how the flora of this area is able to survive the cold, the small amount of water, which is mostly frozen- and the scarce nutrients available in the soil.
"My job is to use Antarctica as a natural laboratory. There, together with undergraduate and graduate students, we collect bio-resources, such as fungi and bacteria, seeking an application for them. And here we see that, with the inoculation of these microorganisms, it gives them tolerance. For example, we see that, for blueberries, the inoculation of these microorganisms confers them tolerance to frost, avoiding dying, or vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes are inoculated with fungi to increase their productivity and, at the same time, save water," said the academic.
On the other hand, there are other plants that, when inoculated with microorganisms, generate a symbiosis which would allow providing them with slightly desalinated water and continue developing perfectly. "We are trying to generate some biotechnological tools based on this research, not only for the agricultural sector, but also to the forest sector through the reforestation pilot plans using trees inoculated with these microorganisms," added the academic.
The last published work by the professor talks about inoculating lettuce plants with Antarctic fungi, focusing on the molecular mechanisms that the fungi induce on the plants. This symbiosis allowed a 20% decrease in the consumption of water for the obtaining of commercial individuals, which can be translated in big savings for agriculture and high efficiency in crops of hundreds of hectares.
In addition, the harvest process is accelerated, by adding a fourth annual cycle to the normal three.
The technique, according to Molina, consists in taking the roots of plants from Antarctica and, with sterilization means, fungi are extracted and added to growth media. Then, in a strain collector, the types of micro-organisms are identified.
Microorganisms, which may come from the leaves or roots, are chopped into small pieces and put into jars where they begin to grow to be then extracted. It is important to identify the species and then they are injected through an aqueous medium.
"In three years, we have obtained commercial caliber lettuces with almost a 20% less water and 20% less time, too. If we use the same amount of water on vegetables inoculated with these microorganisms, these would be 15% larger," concluded Professor Molina.
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