Councils ignoring soil contamination issues as Defra cuts funding

6th July 2016

Responsibility for contaminated soil clean-up is increasingly falling on councils, despite cuts from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), a new report from the Environmental Audit Committee has found.

An estimated 325,000 sites in the UK, covering 300,000 hectares, are contaminated with substances including chemicals, heavy metals, tar, gases, asbestos and radioactive substances.

Microbes, nitrogen and plant responses to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide

1st July 2016

Plants can grow faster as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase, but only if they have enough nitrogen or partner with fungi that help them get it, according to new research published this week in Science.

The study was led by César Terrer Moreno, a Ph.D. student at Imperial College London, and included researchers from Northern Arizona University, the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Indiana University and New South Wales University (Australia).

Study unlocks surprising behaviour of soil bacteria

1st July 2016

Newly sequenced genomes of soil bacteria have raised questions about how differing land management affects the organisms' behaviour.

UK scientists found one strain locked nitrogen in the soil, while another released a potent greenhouse gas.

The findings came to light after the researchers sequenced Bradyrhizobium, one of the most active and abundant groups of soil bacteria.