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February 6, 2004

USA: Scientists to use fungi to increase pea plant yields

Scientists from the USA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are to field-test a two-pronged approach to growing dry edible peas using bacteria and fungus.

Scientists from the USA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are to field-test a two-pronged approach to growing dry edible peas using bacteria and fungus.

They are coating the legume crop’s seed with an experimental inoculant containing two kinds of yield-boosting microbes: Rhizobia bacteria and Mycorrhiza fungi. The bacteria supplies pea plant roots with nitrogen “fixed” from the air, while the fungi provides phosphorus “mined” from the soil, said the agency.

The researchers are also testing the coating with pea varieties that allow the fungi and bacteria to prosper, whilst they assist the vegetable’s growth. Pea growers normally inoculate pea seed with Rhizobia, but ARS scientists say combining it with Mycorrhiza has increased test yields by up to 30%.

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