Natural Bacteria Combatting World HungerCiara Judge, Émer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow, Ireland Grand Prize winner Age Category Award, 15-16
We investigated the use of diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop germination and growth aid. Using naturally occurring Rhizobium strains of the Diazotroph bacteria family, we carried out an extensive study of their impact on the germination rate and subsequent growth of the cereal crops wheat, oats and barley. Detailed statistical analysis of our results indicated that these bacterial strains accelerated crop germination by up to 50%, and increased barley yields by 74%. Such a cereal crop performance improvement could significantly assist combatting the growing global food poverty challenge and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture by reducing fertilizer use.