PerspectivePlant Science

Toward nitrogen-fixing plants

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Science  23 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6378, pp. 869-870
DOI: 10.1126/science.aas8737

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Nitrogen is the main nutrient that limits crop yield. Biologically reactive nitrogen is therefore routinely supplied to crops as synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. In the developed world, the extensive use of synthetic fertilizer in agriculture has substantial financial and environmental costs (1). By contrast, in the developing world, the lack of fertilizer causes low crop yields, resulting in hunger and malnutrition. Many of these problems could be avoided if plants could be engineered to fix nitrogen directly from air.