PerspectivePlant Science

Unlocking the Door to Invasion

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Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 865-866
DOI: 10.1126/science.1202342

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To increase crop yields, farmers use inorganic fertilizers that provide plants with usable forms of nitrogen and phosphorus. The production and application of fertilizers, however, requires huge amounts of fossil energy and causes pollution. To reduce these problems and support the growing human population, sustainable agriculture will require new plant varieties capable of supplying themselves with these elements. On page 909 of this issue, Op den Camp et al. (1) take a step toward this goal by describing a cell surface receptor that enables a plant to establish symbiotic relationships with both the bacteria and fungi that help it to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and take up phosphorus.