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Originally published April 24 2011

Discovery by Israeli scientists may lead to development of 'green' pesticides

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Scientists from Tel Aviv University's (TAU) Department of Physics and Astronomy have developed a bacterial "Social-IQ score" system that they say paves the way for the development of intelligence-based "green" pesticides. If successfully replicated, the discovery could lead to a viable replacement for the toxic, chemical-based pesticides currently used in conventional agriculture.

"Bacteria are our worst enemies, but they can also be our best friends," said Alexandra Sirota-Madi, a research student at TAU and co-author of the recent study. "To better exploit their capabilities and to outsmart pathogenic bacteria, we must realize their social intelligence."

The way it works, at least in theory, is that if scientists can outsmart the "smartest" bacteria, they can then develop unique, non-chemical methods of deterring crop damage. And though it may seem revolutionary, the process is actually what bacteria do naturally in soil when they are not disrupted by toxic pesticides.

Researchers identified both the Vortex and two different Paenibacillus bacterial strains to be the world's smartest bacteria. And most of the harmful bacteria that currently threatens agriculture is not very intelligent. So by planting the "smart" bacteria along with the "dumb" bacteria, the harmful strains can successfully be mitigated without requiring any other external applications.

Soil bacteria is necessary to protect plants from foreign invaders. Much like stomach and gut bacteria, soil bacteria works in harmony with one another to keep the system in proper health. It is only when this balance is upset by things like toxic pesticides that conditions rapidly decline and disease ensues.

"Thanks to the special capabilities of our bacteria strain, it can be used by researchers globally to further investigate the social intelligence of bacteria," added Sirota-Madi. "When we can determine how smart they really are, we can use them as biotechnology factories and apply them optimally in agriculture."

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