Growing up, we all learnt that farmers use fertilisers to facilitate plants' growth to ensure a better harvest. There are organic and inorganic fertilisers in the market. While organic fertilisers are good for the soil's health, inorganic fertilisers are proven to be more effective and used by farmers! The most heavily used inorganic fertiliser in the market is nitrogen. But, we all know that the intense use of fertilisers on fruits and vegetables can be bad for the crop. What if we told you that there may be a possibility that plants don't need to be fertilised anymore?!
Nitrogen is essential for the growth of a crop and therefore nitrogen fertilisers are heavily used for farming. However, a plant has been able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere without any fertilisers! Known as Sierra Mixe Maize, this special corn is known to be indigenous to Mexico and has been making head turns. This plant can naturally absorb the nitrogen that is in the air and grow at full capacity without the use of fertilisers. Shared by @planthropology_ on Twitter, we get a glimpse of what makes this corn so special and how is it able to manage to fix nitrogen from the environment. Take a look:
Hi there, to round out your weekend, you've officially been notified that there's endemic Mexican maize that has aerial roots that use bacterial colonies to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. It looks like this. You needed to know that. pic.twitter.com/CXtI5FkXus— Planthropology Podcast🌵 (@Planthropology_) November 6, 2022
The red banana-like structure you can see protruding out of the bark of the tree is the aerial roots. Roots are generally under the ground and in the soil and the soil is fertilised with nitrogen so that the nitrogen can be fixed through the soil. But Sierra Mixe Maize roots are not underground and, in the air, allowing the plant to fix the nitrogen naturally occurring in our atmosphere. According to the research article "nitrogen fixation in a landrace of maize is supported by a mucilage-associated diazotrophic microbiota" by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, this aerial root secretes carbohydrate-rich mucilage that allows it to fix nitrogen. This makes it ideal as about 78% of our atmosphere is made of nitrogen.
If all plants could do this, then we may not need to use inorganic fertilisers on our fruits and vegetables, making them healthier than ever! What do you think of this phenomenon? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below!