Researcher Finds Way to Fight Cheatgrass, a Western Scourge
By: Christopher Solomon, OCT. 5, 2015
In this article “Researcher Finds Way to Fight Cheatgrass, a Western Scourge” by Christopher Solomon, demonstrates the science behind a potential savior for not farmland, but many plants and animals. What may be “the most successful invasive species in North America. The weed lives in every state” (Solomon, 2015, p.1). Cheatgrass' population is so large in fact it can be seen from space. The massive population threatens the west with larger wildfires because this weed grows in thick groups. With the use of special bacterium this weed and many other weeds could be controlled. With this new power comes great responsibility in the name of biology.
Ann Kennedy, a soil scientist with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, discovered bacterium that could control Cheatgrass populations. It leaves native plants alone but targets cheatgrass. It has taken nearly thirty years to discover this bacterium. According to the article, “she was investigating yellowed wheat in the Palouse country of eastern Washington State when she found some bacteria that appeared to inhibit the number of shoots that the wheat sent skyward…wondered if a bacterium could be used to frustrate weeds instead” (Solomon, 2015, p. 2). Kennedy chose two strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens as weed inhibitors. Dr. Kennedy’s bacteria have shown to reduce the amount of cheatgrass by about half within three years of a single application, and near zero after six years. The bacteria could address a new way to fight wildfires fueled by cheatgrass.
This article is relevant to class as well. It may be a future topic that we will learn. It could be about learning about bacteria further uses rather than it is a prokaryote. This discovery is very beneficial to humanity with many uses. If successful, could launch more research teams into the use of bacteria to control...