In a Fix: Agricultural chemicals disturb a natural relationship

11:13am, June 5, 2007

Several pesticides can disrupt a partnership that enables certain plants to take up nitrogen by enlisting the help of bacteria. As well as stunting the growth of those plants, the newfound effect may be decreasing soil fertility, the researchers suggest.

Organisms require nitrogen to make proteins, but most living things can't use the abundant gas in the atmosphere. A natural process called biological nitrogen fixation converts the gas to ammonia, the form that plants need.

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