Oak Ridge National Laboratory Discovers Gene that Controls Plant and Soil Fungi Relationship

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced that scientists have discovered the specific gene that controls an important symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi. ORNL says the discovery could lead to the development of bioenergy and food crops that can withstand harsh growing conditions, resist pathogens and pests, require less chemical fertilizer, and produce larger and more plentiful plants per acre. Mycorrhizal fungi form a sheath around plant roots that help them acquire nutrients and withstand pathogens and pests. Fostering this relationship using the gene that controls it could help create stronger, healthier plants, say scientists involved in the work.