We’re back with brand new bioresearch that has been developing for the past few days. These summaries are just a glimpse of what innovations are happening in the worlds of agriculture and the circular economy. Be sure to check out the full studies linked below.
For the first time ever, scientists have made a quantitative assessment for agriculture sustainability. The team from University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science assembled the assessment taking into consideration environmental, economic, and social impacts. Named the Sustainable Agriculture Matrix, or SAM, it will provide transparent measurements that can help governments and organizations to evaluate progress. “This Sustainable Agriculture Matrix is an effort to promote accountability for nations’ commitments towards sustainable agriculture, we hope this can serve as a tool to bring the stakeholders together. Agriculture production is not only about farmers. It’s about everyone”, said project leader Xin Zhang. Read more about the assessment here.
The Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) at the University of Vienna have determined that macro-, micro-, and nanoplastics –byproducts of fertilizers in agriculture– release their pollutants in the upper layers of soil. Meaning, they do not contaminate groundwater as often assumed, but have a negative effect on soil microbes and crops. “Plastic always contains so-called additives. These additives ensure certain properties, durability or even the colour of a polymer. In addition, contaminants such as pesticides or pharmaceutical residues may become adsorbed to the plastic particles,” explains Stephanie Castan, lead author of the study. Learn more about the study here.
A team of engineers and chemists from University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) have made a major development in the creation of microbial fuel cells, using bacteria to extract electrons from organic matter to generate electrical currents. They focused their efforts on Shewanella, a bacteria that has been previously studied due to its energy-generation capabilities; it grows in all types of environments regardless of oxygen levels. Shewanella breaks down organic waste matter into smaller molecules. Electrons become a byproduct of the process, some of them can be captured, forming a microbial fuel cell that produces electricity. Read details of the study here.
Food and Agriculture
Studies from the University of California – Riverside (UCR) have developed a new chemical that will make dormant seeds sprout. When plants perceive droughts, they emit abscisic acid (ABA), a phytohormone that helps them withhold water. This hormone sends the message to seeds that it isn’t a good time to germinate, resulting in lower crop yields in increasingly warm places, a result of climate change. “If you block ABA, you mess with the chemical pathway that plants use to prevent seed germination. Our new chemical, Antabactin, does exactly this. If we apply it, we have shown that dormant seeds will sprout”, said Aditya Vaidya, UCR project scientist and study author. Learn more here.