A team of three teenage girls took home the Google Science Fair grand prize for a project that could help boost agricultural production.
Sixteen-year-old Irish tenth-graders Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Throw studied how a bacteria called diazotroph can speed the growth of cereal crops. Part of the discovery took place literally in their backyard.
“We found out about Diazotroph bacteria when Émer’s mom was gardening and found nodules on the roots of her pea plants,” the team wrote in their science-fair proposal.
After 11 months of research, the team discovered that seeds treated with this bacteria grew 50% faster than untreated seeds, and that the bacteria increased crop yields by an average of 30%. This discovery could both boost crop production and minimize crop losses due to adverse weather, the team wrote.
Their work is already being considered in real-world applications. The girls wrote that someone (they didn’t say who) has submitted a patent application to apply the research to the industrial brewing process, and representatives of the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority will discuss their work with an EU research official at an upcoming meeting in Brussels.
Lead photo courtesy of Google Science Fair
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