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Plant scientists create 'see-through' soil
by Staff Writers
Dundee, Scotland (UPI) Oct 1, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Researchers in Scotland say they have developed a see-through soil that will enable scientists to study roots in detail for the first time.

The underground world of plant roots is called the rhizosphere and scientists at the University of Abertay Dundee and the James Hutton institute, writing in the journal PLos ONE, say creation of the new transparent soil marks a research milestone that will have applications in many different areas.

The artificial soil that becomes translucent when saturated with a special water-based solution is a substrate very similar to real soil in terms of physical and biological variables, researchers said.

The soil is a synthetic composite utilizing Nafion, often used in power-generating fuel cells, and replicates natural soil chemistry, they said.

"There are many different scientific disciplines that could benefit from this research," Hutton researcher Lionel Dupuy said. "Transparent soils could be used to study the spread and transmission of soil borne pathogens.

"In crop genetics, transparent soils could be used to screen the root systems of a range of genotypes. This would help breed crops with more efficient root systems so that agriculture can rely less on fertilizers."

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Washington DC (SPX) Sep 27, 2012
Global grain production is expected to reach a record high of 2.4 billion tons in 2012, an increase of 1 percent from 2011 levels, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project (www.worldwatch.org) for the Institute's Vital Signs Online service. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the production of grain ... read more

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