Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 10, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
Would have ability to produce grain Botanists working on development of fertilizer-free cereal plants LONDON (CP) Botanists at Nottingham University are working on development of cereal plants that might pro- duce grain without the need of artificial fertilizer. The scientists at the Mid- lands university are seeking to give cereals the ability pos- sessed by other plants, such as peas, beans and clover, to take nitrogen from the air, convert it into chemical form and use it as a nutrient. The difficulty is that con- ventional cross-breeding can be effected only through the mechanism of sex and sexual fusion, leading to the develop- ment of viable offspring. And this can occur only when the parents are either of the same or closely-related species. The plants able to fix nitro- gen are far too distantly re- lated to cereals to allow any transfer of ability by sexual means. But Prof. Edward Cocking and his colleagues at Nottingham are showing how mechanisms other than sex can bring about the necessary congress. HELP EACH OTHER Nitrogen fixation in legumes such as peas is the result of a symbiotic process mu- tually helpful association of two different organisms. Bac- teria known as rhizobium lodge in nodules In the roots of the legume. By their com- bined efforts the rhizobium and the plant root cells pro- duce enzymes. It is these enzymes which have the power to fix the ni- trogen present in soil air. The production of enzymes, biolog- ical catalysts, is controlled by genes. It appears that in this case some of the necessary genes are contained in the bacteria and some of them in the host plant cell. This intimate relationship between host cell and bacter- ium, a kind of controlled Infection that benefits both parties and does not simply undermine the host, has pre- sumably take many millions of years to evolve. A rhizobium bacterium is unable to fix nitrogen alone. No nitrogen fixation would take place if rhizobium bac- teria were introduced into the cells of a cereal which did not possess the genetic back- ground necessary to comple- ment the bacterium's nitro- gen-fixing potential. JOIN IN TWO PLANTS Two possible "ways to pro- duce a nitrogen-fixing cereal are under investigation at Nottingham. One is to fuse by artificial means the cells of a cereal with those of a legume so as to transfer the nitrogen- fixing component of the leg- ume on to the cereal. The re- sultant hybrid cell might then be infected with rhizobium to produce a nitrogen-fixing complex and this might then be cultured into a whole plant. Another possible solution is to make use of a soil-living bacterium such as azotobac- ter which unlike rhizobium can fix nitrogen unaided, without any help from a plant cell. The theory is that the ancestors of rhizobium resem- bled azotobacter in that they too could fix nitrogen unaided. But the rhizobium ancestors became incorporated into plant root cells and as time went on part of their nitro- gen-fixing gene became incor- porated into the genetic com- plement of the host cells. It might be possible to re- enact that evolutionary proc- ess in the laboratory: to infect cereal cells with azotobacter in the hope they will confer some of their nitrogen-fixing ability to the host cell. The modified cereal cell might then be able to fix nitrogen when infected with rhizobium. NIBBLE AT PROBLEM Prof. Cocking and his col- leagues are nibbling away at various aspects of these prob- lems. Cell fusion has been performed mainly in other laboratories, using animal cells. The snag is that plant cells have thick walls, which generally prevent fusion. But there now is evidence that fusion of plant cells can occur and since such artificial fusion can be effected be- tween cells of unrelated spec- ies hte idea of producing hy- brids between unrelated spec- ies the idea of producing hy eals, is considered feasible. The second approach involv- es uptake of whole bacteria by plant cells, something which is extraordinaryily difficult un- less the bacterium is of a kind adapted through evolution to infect partcular cell. Now Prof. Cocking and his colleagues have shown that this too can be done. They re- moved the cell walls from leaf cells by digestion and exposed the cells to bacteria. The whole culture took place in a concentrated sugar solution which caused the plant cells to contract and contort. In so doing they en- gulfed bacteria from the cul- ture. Subsequently those bac- teria were found to be well ensconced in the plant cells and active, some possibly even dividing. There is a large gap be- tween inducing cells to take up bacteria and conferring some of the bacteria's genetic potential on to the plant cells but the necessary techniques are already evolving. Sunshiners give flower to Mrs. Ehnes ETZIKOM (HNS) Eleven Sunshine Club members an- swered roll call with the pre- sentation of an artificial Row- er for the hostess at the re- cent meeting at the home of Mrs. Pius (Thekla) Ehnes. It was decided to purchase a setting of SO stainless steel flat- ware and an 84 cup size elec- tric coffee percolator to be pur- chased in the near future. A sachet case was donatec to the club by Mrs. Clayton (Sylvia) Robinson. Plans were made for lunch to be served al the Robinson sale and a date set for a cleaning bee Thurs day at the North Cemetery. The hostess gift was present ed to Mrs. Elmer (Gladys Genno. The next meeting is slated for June 6 at the home of Mrs Harry (Betty) Cooper. Pension plan sessions set Thursday, May 10, 1973 THE LETHBRIDGI HERALD 31 Canadian studies Miss Knibbs attends forum GRASSY LAKE Laurel Lee Knibbs, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Knibbs of Grassy Lake and a Grade 11 student at Chamberlain High School, attended the recent Ca- nadian Studies Forum hosted by the Calgary public school system. The forum was attended by 21 students and their chaper- ones from each of the 10 prov- inces, from the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. This forum was the out- Honor Wilhite CLARESHOLM (Special) On his retirement after 28 years as consignor for Texaco, Ledford Wilhite was honored at a recent dinner in Hawley's Restaurant here. Rogers to tour WASHINGTON (AP) State Secretary William Rogers will leave May 12 for a two-week visit to seven or eight Latin American countries, it was learned here. He is expected to stop in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, Vene- zuela, Colombia and possibly a Caribbean country. Canada Pension plan officer Louis la Place will be in at- tendance at Spanvood. Town Hall, May 14, 10 30 to a.m.; Fernie, city hall, May 14, 1 to 3 p.m.; Cranbrook, fed- eral building, May 15, 9 a.m to p.m., Kimberley, union hall, May 16, 10 to 4 p.m., Cres- ton, federal agriculture build- ing, May 17, a.m. to 3 p.m. He will answer queries on the Canada Pension Plan, the old age security and the guaran- teed income supplement. PITY THE CORNER GROCER Thousands of corner store owners are in trouble, and most of them know It. To find out why, read Ian Adams' ttory In Weekend Magazine Saturday about what happened to o Winnipeg grocer who tried to fight off hcldupmen. the Newtonbrook Canadian Stud- year at North growth of Conference on ies held last York, Ont. At that time Alberta sent a full delegation under the super- vision of the associate director of curriculum, Dr. H. Sherk. Miss Knibbs was honored at her own school when the staff and students gathered in as- sembly to congratulate her on being one of the 21 students to be selected from Alberta. She had brought honor to herself and to her school and to show their happiness for her achieve- ment, her room teacher, Bob Seaman, presented her with a camera with best wishes from the staff and the Cbamberlain Student Union. Prince Igor has no w taste. Ptince Igor is vodJo, Pure vo Without a flicker of taste or color or scent A prince of a. vodka. Have the Prince over, tonight CAREERS AGRI-BUSINESS CAREERS NEED A NEW CHALLENGE? Wo ara a major growing feed and farm supply com- pany requiring personnel fn tha threo pralrio If you are success oriented but progress has been slow, we invite you to talk to us. Wo offer top fringe benefits and excellent advancement possibilities. Agricultural background necessary. Agricul- tural educafion and sales and service in livestock poultry preferred. 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