Tuesday, May 23, 2017
How three teens used bacteria to tackle global food poverty.
How three teens used bacteria to tackle global food poverty. Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow, high-schoolers from County Cork, Ireland discovered a bacterial treatment for cereal crop seeds that could potentially increase yields in areas stricken by famine. The three were named the winners of Google's annual global science fair for teens after they spent eleven months treating cereal crop seeds with a natural bacteria and waiting for them to grow. It turned out the team didn't have to wait very long. The bacteria helped the seeds to germinate much faster than usual and the girls are now looking to apply their method in famine-prone areas. The girls plunged into the project after Emer's mother discovered nodules on the roots of her pea plants while gardening. Curiosity led them to the classroom, where a teacher informed them about Diazotroph bacteria, which helps convert atmospheric nitrogen into a more usable form. Legumes like the pea plant in Emer's backyard are known to have a beneficial relationship with one kind of Diazotroph bacteria known as rhizobia. The students inoculated thousands of seed samples with a diluted syrup of rhyzobia. They found that, even in non-legume plants, this naturally-occurring bacteria accelerated crop germination by up to 50 percent and there are big benefits to completing the germination stage more quickly. more