Brazil-USA Partnership invests US$2 million in research on Aluminum tolerance

Embrapa Milho e Sorgo, in partnership with important American institutions, obtained approval for an innovative project financed by the National Science Foundation

05.04.2024 | 16:20 (UTC -3)
José Heitor Vasconcellos

Aluminum toxicity in acidic soils has been a persistent challenge for agriculture in tropical regions, where the metal damages the root systems of plants, limiting the absorption of water and essential nutrients. In a scenario of climate change, with less rainfall, agricultural sustainability ensured by tolerance to aluminum assumes paramount importance for food security in the world.

In response to this problem, Embrapa Milho e Sorgo, from Sete Lagoas-MG, in partnership with important American institutions, obtained approval for an innovative project financed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States, worth US$ 2 million . The main objective of this project is to decipher the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate aluminum tolerance in corn and sorghum, crops essential for global food security, particularly in tropical regions.

Lasting three years, the project has a team of renowned experts, including researcher Jurandir Magalhães from Embrapa Milho e Sorgo, Dr. Thomas Gingeras (leader of the proposal) and Robert Martienssen from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Dr. Andrea Eveland of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Dr. Michael Zody of the New York Genome Center.

Research in the area

This initiative marks a continuation of Embrapa's long tradition of research in the area of ​​tolerance to toxic aluminum, which resulted in the pioneering generation of aluminum-tolerant corn and sorghum cultivars for the Brazilian cerrado, as well as the isolation of tolerance genes in these species. Now, the focus turns to understanding the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that underlie this aluminum tolerance, with the hope that these discoveries will boost agricultural production in tropical regions.

Researcher Jurandir Magalhães expressed optimism regarding the expected results. "This project will represent a significant advance at the frontier of scientific knowledge. We hope that our discoveries will not only improve the understanding of aluminum tolerance in plants, but also pave the way for innovative solutions that benefit farmers and communities around the world", he celebrated. 

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