Thursday, November 20, 2014

Plants can use benficial bacteria like we do

Scientists using a microbe that occurs naturally in eastern cottonwood trees have boosted the ability of two other plants -- willow and lawn grass -- to withstand the withering effects of the nasty industrial pollutant phenanthrene and take up 25 to 40 percent more of the pollutant than untreated plants, according to a new study in Environmental Science & Technology.

The approach is much like when humans take probiotic pills or eat yogurt with probiotics to supplement the 'good' microbes in our guts. Microbes that take up residence in the inner tissue of plants and don't cause negative symptoms are called endophytes. In nature, endophytes have a welcomed, symbiotic relationship with plants. In polluted soil, for instance, if the right endophytes are present they consume toxins coming up through plant roots. Beneficial bacteria (probiotics) can do the same thing in humans.

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