MIT and UM6P develop drought-resistant seeds

A laboratory at UM6P .. DR Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with scientists from Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) have developed a promising process to protect seeds from water stress. This new seed coating process, tested in Morocco, could facilitate agriculture in arid lands by allowing the seeds to retain all the available water Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with colleagues from the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) have come up with a promising process to protect seeds from the stress of lack of water during their crucial germination phase, and even provide plants with additional nutrition at the same time, the journal Nature Food reported. , in an article by MIT professor of civil and environmental engineering Benedetto Marelli, MIT doctoral student Augustine Zvinavashe, and eight others at MIT and UM6P. The team included Julie Laurent, Salma Mouhib, Hui Sun, Henri Manu Effa Fouda, Doyoon Kim, Manal Mhada and Lamfeddal Kouisni at MIT and UM6P in Benguerir. The work was supported in part by the United States Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and the MIT Paul M. Cook Career Development Professorship. The process, undergoing continuous testing, is simple and inexpensive, and could be widely deployed in arid regions, the researchers say. “The two-layer coating that the team developed is the direct result of years of research by Marelli and his associates in developing seed coatings to provide various benefits. A previous version allowed the seeds to resist high salinity in the soil, but the new version aims to fight against water shortages, ”summarizes Science Daily, using information disseminated by MIT News. Marelli explains that climate change will have an impact on the basin of the Mediterranean region. “We need to develop new technologies that can help mitigate these changes in climate patterns that will make less water available to agriculture,” he said. The new coating, inspired by the natural coatings found on some seeds such as chia and basil, is designed to protect the seeds from drying out. It provides a gel-like coating that tenaciously retains any moisture that comes along and envelops the seed. A second inner layer of the coating contains preserved microorganisms called rhizobacteria and certain nutrients to help them grow. When exposed to soil and water, the microbes will fix nitrogen in the soil, providing the growing seedling with nutritious fertilizer to help it move forward, it is explained. The first tests using soil from Moroccan experimental farms have shown encouraging results, researchers say, and now field tests of the seeds are underway. An experimental process that respects the environment If the process confirms its effectiveness, it can be applied locally, even in remote places in the developing world, due to its simplicity and the availability of the necessary materials in industry. food, says Marelli. The materials are also fully biodegradable, and some of the compounds themselves may in fact be derived from food waste, eventually allowing the possibility of closed-loop systems that continuously recycle their own waste. While the process adds a small amount to the cost of the seeds themselves, Marelli says, it can also produce savings by reducing the need for water and fertilizer. The net balance of costs and benefits remains to be determined by further research. Although the first tests using common beans showed promising results by various measures, including root mass, stem height, chlorophyll content and other parameters, the team has yet to grow a crop. complete from seed with the new coating, which will be the ultimate test of its value. Assuming this improves crop yields in arid conditions, the next step will be to expand the research to a variety of other important crop seeds, the researchers said. “The system is so simple that it can be applied to any seed,” says Marelli. “And we can design the seed coating to meet different climate models.” It might even be possible to tailor coatings to the expected rainfall of a particular growing season, he says. © ️ Copyright Pulse Media. All rights reserved.Reproduction and dissemination prohibited (photocopies, intranet, web, messaging, newsletters, monitoring tools) without written authorization