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Corn, soybean, mycorrhiza symbiosis

Create a root symbiosis between corn(c4) and soybeans(nitrogen fixer)
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Develop corn and soybean varieties that can be simultaneous root symbiotic partners with a strain of fungus. The soybeans to supply nitrogen and peptides from its symbiosis with nitrogen fixing bacteria, the mycorrhiza to supply phosphorus in exchange for some of the nitrogen and the corn to supply energy rich organic components. Corn being a C4 plant is much more efficient at capturing solar energy but needs significant amounts of nitrogen to provide the proteins utilized in the process. Nitrogen fixation is an energy intensive process and takes significant energy resources from its host.

The secondary benefit of this is that a mix of corn and soybeans is a complete protein for humans. Such a symbiosis complex would significantly increase both the energy and protein nutrition of areas unable to afford chemical fertilizers. Although one might have a sociological problem with corn being considered an unsuitable feed stock for humans in some areas.

cjacks, Oct 17 2006

Plant genes required for root symbioses http://www.jic.ac.u...rchive/mp/genes.htm
Evidently root symbioses is mediated by particular genes. [cjacks, Oct 17 2006]

Influence of soil pH on the soybean-endomycorrhiza symbiosis http://www.springer...t/k65w1v7j53151301/
Soybeans enjoy greater growth with both bacterial(N) and mycorrhizal(P) symbiosis [cjacks, Oct 17 2006]

Enhanced Plant nutrition through Symbiosis http://aob.oxfordjo...gi/reprint/89/6/783
Can corn, a C4 plant, become an active source of organic nutrition in exchange for nitrogen? [cjacks, Oct 17 2006]


       How would this work? I can see the symbiosis of a fungus and a plant, but two crops? Are you thinking of a cross of corn and soy or of planting them next to each other with their roots intertangled? Might be kind of hard to harvest?   

       Somebody countered the notion that C4 plants are more efficient in Vernon's "More plants with the C4 cycle" (do you guys know each other?).
jmvw, Oct 18 2006

       Yes they would have to be planted in parallel rows. It probably would take testing to determine the best distance, However fungi can create some amazingly large individuals. The fairy rings of mushrooms generally come from an individual, growing until it runs out of food and then putting its stored mass into spore bodies. I assume one individual fungi can form root symbiosis with multiple high order plants. They just have to be in the growing area. Don’t know the other guy, worked in agricultural research for six or seven years before moving into transportation research. Moved on from that.
cjacks, Oct 18 2006

       I accidentally grew a bunch of squashcumbers once. They were hideous, but useful for scaring burglars.
normzone, Oct 18 2006

       You could just use the current method, and plow the beans under after harvesting. Alternate crops, and that guy bob finally marries your spinster aunt.
GutPunchLullabies, Oct 18 2006

       Would the proximity of two diiferent crops cause a problem when harvest time comes? Extra sorting and that sort of thing.
Jinbish, Oct 19 2006

       Corn doesn't mean the same thing in all parts of the world, but you clearly mean maize.   

       Sounds feasible, as mycorrhizas are not extremely species specific.   

       The other sociological problem, of course, is the degree of acceptance of genetic manipulation.
spidermother, Oct 19 2006

       There probably would be problems if harvested mechanically. The equipment existing wouldn’t be optimized for the new planting scheme. And yes I mean Zia mays (maize). Forgot about the “old world” idea of “corn”. Guess I demonstrated a bit of locality there. Glycine max for soybeans.   

       I would prefer a breeding program instead of genetic manipulation. It worked for thousands of years. There are some subspecies of Zia mays that are “wild” in Florida, USA. Most likely some have root symbiosis already. It wouldn’t surprise me if there aren’t escaped varieties of soy beans with root symbiosis as well. Just need to find a match.
cjacks, Oct 20 2006


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