by K.S. Harikrishnan, SciDev.Net
Salt-tolerant bacteria found in salt pans can be used to contain fungal attacks on chili (Capsicum annuum), a major export crop of India, according to a new study published this month.
India, the largest grower, consumer and exporter of chillies in the world, is estimated to have produced in the 2021—2022 fiscal year 1.87 million tons, widely used to spice food. Thailand and China are also major producers.
According to the study, conducted by researchers at Goa University, salt-tolerant bacteria can be deployed to counter fungal pathogens that flourish as a result of increasing soil salinisation. This can lead to better nutrient management and improved yields, the researchers say.
"Among abiotic (non-biological) factors, soil salinisation is the most detrimental and considered a significant limiting factor of agricultural productivity and food security," says Savita S. Kerkar, an author of the study and senior professor of bio-technology at Goa University.