Genes and ecosystem services
Protecting plants from disease and fungi
The team found that the same protein used to regulate chemical breakdown also controlled the incidence of diseases in plants. This is an unexpected finding, revealed only by the ability of genomics to identify and focus on the activity of specific genes, often in bacteria that cannot be cultivated in the laboratory.
Some species of bacteria can, at the same time, be both beneficial and disease-causing. Scientists distinguished between the varieties by using tagging DNA. They then isolated the forms that had reduced harmful effects and improved beneficial properties. Varieties that are good at breaking down pollutants as well as protecting crop seedlings' roots from harmful fungi and worms, in the future could be propagated and added to soils.