Self-fertilizing plants: Toward a new era in agriculture and ecosystem management
Funding Year: 2023
Research Areas: Food Security, Sustainability
Nitrogen fertilizer is essential for a robust crop yield, but its production and use drives massive amounts of carbon emissions, die offs in lakes and ponds, and socio-economic inequity. This project will build a platform to enable the rapid development and study of enzymes that fix atmospheric nitrogen (nitrogenases). These enzymes will be optimized to enable different types of algae or plants to produce their own nitrogen fertilizer. With this technology, crops could be grown with less energy and minimal leaching of nitrogen into waterways and oceans. Self-fertilizing plants would also address global inequality by enabling more robust yields in locations where it is difficult or prohibitively expensive to use chemical fertilizers.