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Mutant roots reveal how we can grow crops in damaged soils

By Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Plant Sciences, University of Nottingham
Bipin Pandey, Research scientist, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham
Sacha Mooney, Professor in Soil Physics and Director of the Hounsfield Facility at the University of Nottingham, University of Nottingham
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For years, conventional wisdom has held that roots don’t grow as deep in hard soil because it’s just too difficult for them to physically push through it. But our new research has unearthed another reason: their growth is controlled by a biological signal which can be “switched off”, enabling them to punch through compacted earth. It’s a discovery that could help crops to grow in even the most damaged of soils.

Soil compaction is a major…

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