US (AL): Innovative research at UA greenhouse

Over a year ago, a University of Alabama research team used the UA greenhouse to conduct research involving agricultural sustainability and ways to reduce harm to soil environments. Martinez, part of the most recent research team to use it, isolated bacteria from contaminated soils to study a unique phosphorus metabolism that reduces the concentration of contamination in water.

“This approach would help farmers reduce fertilizer expenditures and conserve the phosphate component in fertilizers, which is a non-renewable resource,” Robert J. Martinez, a microbiologist and university research scientist, said.

Diverse bacteria are able to be cultivated from both contaminated and agricultural soils. They used the convenience of the greenhouse to test different soil strains to determine if the amount of fertilizer applied to soil could be reduced. Previously, they did bacteria research to determine if reduced phosphate amendments provide growth. The team will publish a report of the final conclusions after more research.

Sobecky and Dave Francko, dean of the graduate school and a professor of biological sciences, conducted an economic development project about bamboo-cultivation in the processing industry with the Resource Fiber Alabama, LLC.

“I have used the greenhouse to store bamboo and other plants related to my research on cold hardiness in ornamental plants,” Francko said.

Although not the most well-known research facility around campus, the greenhouse provides more of an experimental opportunity for those in the department of biological sciences than most students at the University know about.

“We hope to be able to maintain it for the foreseeable future, and expansion of the greenhouse would be ideal,” Sobecky said.

Source: University of Alabama

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