Local researchers have found how plants transfer fatty acids that will help to cut the use of fertilizers and fungicides in agriculture.
Fungal diseases can harm a wide range of plants including wheat, barley and apples by damaging their yields.
A group led by Wang Ertao, a researcher of Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, has uncovered "the mutualistic relationship" between plants and fungi.
The paper was published yesterday in Science, a world-leading scientific journal.
"When we talk about the mutualistic relationship between plants and fungi, the textbooks used to say fungi provide plants with mineral nutrients and draw organic nutrients in the form of sugars," said Wang. "But our findings show that fatty acids is the main form of the carbon."
Wang said the newly discovered mechanism — showing how plants transfer fatty acids — would help to improve efficiency of plants receiving mineral nutrients, in turn helping to promote green agriculture. The discovery would also help scientists to understand the carbon-nitrogen cycle in the ecological system, Wang added.