New fertilizer system feeds engineered cotton and kills weeds, too

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In Texas, a newly developed fertilizer system will provide nutrition to engineered cotton crops worldwide and a deadly dose to weeds that are increasingly herbicide resistant, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study. Phosphorus is a major element required by all living beings – life is not possible without it.

The new system applies phosphite to cotton crops engineered to express a certain gene — a gene that makes cotton able to process the phosphite into nutrition while the same compound suppresses weeds that are unable to use it. The transgenic plants expressing the gene gain an ability to convert phosphite into orthophosphate.

“Our researchers here at Texas A&M AgriLife have addressed an issue that costs producers billions of dollars,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M in College Station and AgriLife Research acting director. “This is an economical, environmentally safe and sustainable solution.”