Silk Coatings Help Seeds Germinate in Saline Conditions

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a silk coating for seeds that both protects the seeds and helps them to germinate even in saline soil conditions. The silk coatings are also treated with rhizobacteria that convert nitrogen from the air to a form that plants can uptake, providing fertilizer that helps get the plants off to a good start. Researchers say the seed coating could be applied as a dip or spray, and could make it possible to grow food crops in marginal soil. Next, the team intends to explore coatings that could help seeds germinate and thrive in drought conditions by absorbing water from the soil.