Tag Archives: Biology

Improving Nitrogen and Phosphorus use of cereals to help food security

Friday 24th September marks the final day of the 15th International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology, and is a feature day for the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG). In particular the day will highlight work at the Centre into the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of cereal
plants.

‘Given the environmental effects associated with production and usage of nitrogen fertilisers, and the suggestion that we may be approaching peak phosphorus, increased food production will require crops that use fertilisers more efficiently, that is, we need to increase the nutrient use efficiency of crops,’ said Dr Trevor Garnett, NUE researcher at ACPFG

Nutrient use efficiency researchers from around the world will meet on the Friday at the National Wine Centre to discuss their research and strategies for international collaboration to address this problem.

‘Currently the demand for food is close to the limits of what we can produce, but by 2050 it is suggested that we will need to increase food production by 60% according to a 2008 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations report,’ he said.

Nitrogen (N) is one of the biggest input costs for farmers and the price is increasing because of the power used to industrially fix N from the atmosphere. Approximately 2 % of the world’s energy is used to produced N fertiliser; this causes a considerable greenhouse gas contribution.

‘Over 100 million tonnes of Nitrogen fertiliser is applied to crops each year and 60% of this on cereals,’ said Dr Garnett. ‘Given the costs and environmental effects associated with production and usage of nitrogen fertilisers, plants with increased nitrogen use efficiency are of great importance to future food security.’

Nitrogen is the fertiliser that plants require the most, but only 40-50% of the applied fertiliser is taken up by the cereal crops. The nitrogen not taken up leads to pollution of waterways and oceans, one consequence being algal blooms at river deltas causing dead zones.

Unused nitrogen fertiliser has a further environmental impact in that it is broken down in the soil by microbes and released into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Plants require less phosphorus than nitrogen but there is a lot less available. Current estimates are that the world will reach peak phosphorus by the middle of this century. Peak phosphorus, in the same way as peak oil, means the readily available supplies have been utilised and the cost of phosphorous fertiliser will dramatically increase.

The Friday session includes plenary speakers representing the key international groups specialising in NUE and research presentations describing key rate limiting steps in NUE that are currently being targeted to improve the NUE in crop plants.

IWPMB 2010 Website

Photos from the International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology XV

Photos from the opening of the 15th International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology were taken on Sunday the 19th of September 2010 at the National Wine Centre of Australia in Adelaide. You can see them on the IWPMB flickr set.

Plant Membrane Biology

$31 million biotech centre to benefit crops, food, energy

Professor Geoff Fincher

Australia’s crop and food industries will benefit from a new $31 million biotechnology Centre of Excellence, read the media release, to be directed from the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.

The University was on Friday the 16th of July awarded $19.25 million in federal funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC), with an additional $12 million of support from partnering institutions. The University’s new ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Wall Biology will build an international team of researchers with strong industry links.

Molecular Techniques DVD – Product Launch

Today we celebrated the launch of a DVD on molecular biology “Introduction to Molecular Techniques: Theory and Practice”.

Molecular Techniques - Product Launch - Dr Heather Bray, Dr Amanda Able, Professor Bob Bill, Professor James McWha

“In an Australian first; scientists from industry, University and the vocational sector have collaborated to produce an educational DVD presenting the techniques and applications of molecular biology in a practical way. The DVD introduces the theory of common methods and protocols used in laboratories using animations, before demonstrating the complex techniques step-by-step in the laboratory.”

To buy a copy of the DVD please visit www.moleculartechniques.com.au