3 Girls Won The Google Science Gair With A Bacteria-Based Plan To Solve The Food Crisis
Three young girls won the Google science fair on Sept. 22 with their innovative way to feed the world: treat plants with bacteria to help farmers grow more food, faster — without genetic modification.
"By the year 2050 we actually need 50 percent more food just to feed everyone," Emer Hickey, one of the three winners, told Scientific American.
Hickey worked with her classmates Ciara Judge and Sophie Healy on their project. The three teenage girls, who live in Ireland, were simultaneously learning about plants and world hunger. Their project “Combating the global food crisis: Diazotroph Bacteria As a Cereal Crop Growth Promoter" aims to tackle issues of world hunger by exploiting a curious relationship they found between bacteria and certain plants.
After 11 months of hard work and dedication, the three teen microbiologists discovered that they could make crops yield more food and shorten the time it takes a plant to sprout from a seed — a process called germination. They shorten this time by infecting the crops with a bit of bacteria that’s been known to be advantageous to other crop plants.
Their results have huge implications for increasing agricultural productivity and easing world hunger.
The key to their success is a type of bacteria called rhizobia, which lives inside nodules, or the little nubs you sometimes see on plant roots. While we usually think of bacteria as dangerous, these are actually helpful to the plants. By converting nitrogen from the air into helpful compounds like ammonia, the bacteria aid plant growth. (Read more)