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New Fertilizer Research From UC Berkeley
Fertilizing Plants Could Make Them Susceptible to Diseases

New Fertilizer Research From UC Berkeley

A growth chamber, packed with tomato plants, was sprayed with bacteria to simulate different leaf microbiomes and then challenged with a plant pathogen to measure how well the microbiomes protected the plant from disease.

Scientists at the University of California Berkeley have released their results of a new study that examined the effects of fertilizing plants in correlation to their ability to fend off diseases.

In a news article posted on the UC Berkeley website, the results were called "nonintuitive," as the research team found that spraying tomatoes plants with fertilizer lead to "an increase in the population of pathogenic microbes on the plants' leaves."

While it is noted that the researchers do not know if having an increased amount of pathogens on the leaves directly results in plant disease, the study was conclusive in finding that fertilizer disrupts the natural community of microbes on the leaf and could result in allowing disease-causing organisms to enter the plant.

This was not the only shocking discovery made by the team, as they also found that "a lower dose of beneficial microbes sprayed on the leaves was often more effective in protecting the plants from infection than higher doses."

"We found that the most protective community was the most dilute, the least concentrated, the lowest dose," stated graduate student Maureen Berg who was part of the study. "A medium dose gave medium protection and the highest dose was the least protective."

While there is undoubtedly more research that needs to be done before hard conclusions can be drawn, the research can demonstrate that for somethings in life less is more. The entire article can be found on UC Berkeley's website HERE.

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August 25, 2019, 1:18 am PDT

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