Aluminium threat to food security revealed

Aluminium threat to food security revealed
Food security is a critical issue.

One third of the world's food-producing land has been lost in the past 40 years as a result of soil degradation, putting global food security at risk.

Researchers from The University of Queensland have discovered how aluminium, a toxic result of soil acidification, acts to reduce plant growth.

UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences researcher Dr Peter Kopittke said the increasing human population and continuing degradation of farm soils has made a critical issue.

"Acid soils cost over $A1.5 billion per year in forgone production in Australia alone," Dr Kopittke said.

"Soil degradation occurs naturally, but is exacerbated by agricultural activities and is expensive to reverse, so another option is to cultivate crops with better tolerance for the soil conditions.

"Our research has identified how aluminium reduces , so that we can work towards overcoming this and increasing crop productivity."

The researchers discovered that aluminium in soils could reduce the growth of roots within five to 30 minutes of exposure.

Using the TwinMic microscope at the Elettra synchrotron facility in Trieste, Italy, they showed that aluminium accumulates in root tips, exerting a toxic effect on cells required for root growth.

"For these cells, growth occurs when the cell walls loosen, yet we demonstrated that aluminum accumulates in the cell wall and inhibits their growth," Dr Kopittke said.

"If the roots of a plant don't grow properly then it will be unable to access water and nutrients and it will not flourish.

"Low productivity crops do not make the best use of the available arable land, and make it difficult to keep up with global demands.

"We have shown that in order to overcome the negative effects of aluminium, it is important to focus on traits involved in cell wall loosening to breed crops with greater aluminium tolerance."

The research, conducted in collaboration with the University of Oxford, the University of South Australia and the Elettra synchrotron, is published in Plant Physiology.


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Aluminum tolerance fix could open arable land

More information: "Identification of the primary lesion of toxic aluminum (Al) in plant roots" Plant Physiol. pp.114.253229; First Published on February 10, 2015; DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.253229
Citation: Aluminium threat to food security revealed (2015, March 9) retrieved 25 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-03-aluminium-threat-food-revealed.html
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RWT
Mar 09, 2015
"One third of the world's food-producing land has been lost in the past 40 years as a result of soil degradation, putting global food security at risk."

Strange, I found this farmland exactly where it has always been. These silly soft-scientists, they'd loose their head's if they weren't attached.

Mar 09, 2015
Looks like we'll have to help those poor plants out with a little extra carbon dioxide....

Mar 09, 2015
The major ingredient of the aerosol particulate being sprayed over the entire earth through chemtrails from jets and releases from missiles is aluminum. For years this particulate has been dispersed because of a "secret" policy also called weather modification or geoengineering. Australia is a heavily sprayed country and has been for many years. I would say that aluminum in the soil increasing at a high rate, is from the chaff and particulate fallout of weather modification chemtrail mixtures, and Monsanto, the seed/food giant corporation has been commissioned to create aluminum resistent seeds. Aerosol particulates are highly toxic to life-aluminum, barium, strontium, lead, mercury, titanium, biologics of various kinds, and much more has been sprayed over us all for years. The fall out from this process has been photographed. In short, aluminum is from the chemparticulate and we need to stop this heinous program. See earth from ISS Ustream and see the chemcloud shroud.

Mar 09, 2015
Are they recommending genetic modifications?

Mar 10, 2015
Whydening Gyre: "Are they recommending genetic modification?"

Well here is what the actual article said,

"We have shown that in order to overcome the negative effects of aluminium, it is important to focus on traits involved in cell wall loosening to breed crops with greater aluminium tolerance."

So apparently breeding resistant crops is the recommendation, although some Biotechs have been looking at this. In both cases, neither side seems to be interested in correcting the imbalance which created the problem in the first place. Which is a typical business decision response and nothing to do with science as usual.


Mar 10, 2015
breed crops with greater aluminium tolerance."


But overt genetic modification is forbidden?

Mar 10, 2015
And yet bio-fuels are still being produced. Large parts of the green movement have nothing to do with "Saving The Planet" and everything to do with political power and favors.

Mar 10, 2015
What's obvious, is the necessity to find an inexpensive method of removing aluminum from the soil for reprocessing - into cars or something...:-)

Mar 14, 2015
@WG:
Good thought, but aluminum is very common in dirt so removing it is difficult.

Aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth's crust (after oxygen and silicon) at about 8% by weight. The dry weight of soil is about 1.25 so that's ~1 kg of aluminum per square meter for each centimeter of depth For a 20 cm root depth, that's 200 tonnes of aluminum per hectare, which is too much to be practical to remove.

Aluminum is so reactive that it is normally tightly bound with the oxygen and silicon into aluminum silicates and so does not bother plants. The problem occurs if the soil pH goes to ~5.2 or lower. At this level of acidity aluminum starts to dissolve significantly, and the more acidic the soil the more the concentration of available (dissolved) aluminum grows.

Fortunately adding wood ashes, crushed limestone, etc. can raise the soil pH to keep the aluminum locked up, which is much simpler than removing it (and adds calcium, magnesium, etc. to the soil).

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