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September 11, 2017

Genomic science uncovers genes that enable plants to grow more with less fertilizer

DNA analysis reveals "kingpin" genes, master regulators in networks of genes that take up the nitrogen in fertilizer

Researchers at New York University are tackling one of the major challenges in agriculture: How to raise healthy plants while minimizing the use of fertilizer and the leaching of fertilizer chemicals into the environment, which sometimes results.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a team led by plant genomic scientist Gloria Coruzzi and computer scientist Dennis Shasha is using the latest genomic tools to develop new plant varieties that don't need as much nitrogen to grow.The researchers are also investigating which of the plant's genes control fertilizer uptake and which combinations of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium--the main nutrient chemicals in traditional commercial fertilizers--produce the heartiest plants.

The research in this episode is supported by NSF award #1158273, A Systems Approach to the Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) Nutriome and its Effect on Biomass.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Ann Kellan, Science Nation Producer

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