Discover plants absorb nutrients from dust in the air



Some desert plants live in a controlled dusty environment, able to absorb phosphorus through the leaves for faster growth.

Some desert plants live in a controlled dusty environment, able to absorb phosphorus through the leaves for faster growth.

Israeli scientists have discovered that some desert plants live in controlled dusty environments that can absorb phosphorus through their leaves to grow faster.  This research could open up opportunities to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers in agricultural production.

Discover plants absorb nutrients from dust in the air

Phosphorus-deficient plants were coated with phosphorus showing more growth than others / ph: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

 According to Dr. A.Gross, a natural environment expert on the impacts of climate change from Ben-Gurion University (BGU), he happened to have discovered many desert plants that have capability to nourish themselves from the air by absorbing the dust particles on the leaves and extracting necessary micronutrients.  This is a new discovery that could help the agricultural industry reduce the use of chemical fertilizers that are harmful to the environment.

 Experiments on native Israeli plants such as wheat and chickpeas have shown that their leaves will automatically grow more feathers without phosphorus - a nutrient needed to build cells of all organisms. These hairs act as moisture retention, helping them 'catch' dust particles in the air, then the leaves secrete acids that dissolve phosphorus into a liquid that the plant can absorb.

 Dr. Gross said that through his research on dust for 6 to 7 years and found that it contains many essential elements for plant growth, he experimented with not fertilizing lettuce with phosphorus,  then sprinkle desert dust on the leaves.  Over time, these plants doubled in size.  Thereby, the team concluded that some species of plants can alter the surface of the leaves when they need phosphorus and secrete acids that break down into phosphorus for absorption into nutrients.  Areas with a lot of dust like Israel, and bush-adapted trees will have a great advantage, but in other areas where less bushes are, the crops grow poorer.

 Dr. Gross's findings can help sustain agricultural growth and mitigate its impact on the climate.  Instead of exploiting phosphates from underground mines, dust can be utilized and recycled into foliar fertilizers.

Source: https://eco.confex.com/eco/2020/

meetingapp.cgi/Paper/83545 

Discover plants absorb nutrients from dust in the air

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