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Maize genes control little helpers in the soil

University of Bonn

In order to grow properly, plants take in water and nutrients through their roots. But they have the assistance of some tiny helpers: A layer of bacteria and fungi, just a few millimeters thick, can be found directly around the roots. “These microorganisms are essential for the health and fitness of the plants,” says Dr. Peng Yu, head of the junior research group “Root Functional Biology” at the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES) at the University of Bonn. The microbes help with the absorption of water and nutrients and protect the plants against harmful organisms – similar to how the “microbiome” in the intestines of humans helps to determine whether we become ill or stay healthy.

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