About 38% of the world’s cropland is affected by land degradation, which includes reduced water and nutrient availability.
Improving Crop Yields Through Root Physiology and the Soil Microbiome
Research focus: GIFS will examine the interaction between and among roots, soil and its micro-organismal complement, a dynamic ecosystem that has a substantial effect on soil fertility and crop health.
Micro-organisms in soil (bacteria, fungi, algae, etc.) are important because they affect soil structure and fertility.
Soil micro-organisms make up about 10% of the organic matter in soil. The remaining organic matter is impacted by these micro-organisms to determine the amount of nutrients available for plant growth.
Understanding the chemical signaling (or communication) that takes place between soil micro-organisms and roots is critical to increasing yields and to building sustainable cultivation systems.
GIFS will use DNA sequencing technologies to better understand and manipulate these interactions. Using technology from the Canadian Light Source (synchrotron) and the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation (cyclotron) at the University of Saskatchewan, GIFS will investigate root-soil-microbial interactions and develop intervention strategies.
Exploring and manipulating root growth and regulating the rhizosphere (the soil directly around the root that contains root secretions and soil micro-organisms) could increase water and nutrient absorption and reduce root dysfunction due to infection and disease, resulting in increased crop productivity.