Through the renowned Emery Lab, Dr. Ainsely Lewis and Trent researchers are planting innovative ideas for long-term sustainability
Food security and ensuring a resilient food system are some of the leading challenges of our time. Work being led in Trent University’s Emery lab is bringing Trent’s leadership in sustainable agriculture into the national spotlight through contributions to FarmFood360°, an award-winning virtual platform that offers Canadians a behind-the-scenes look at how and where their food is produced.
A video contribution by post-doctoral fellow Dr. Ainsely Lewis, and Daniel Palberg, Environmental and Life Sciences Ph.D. candidate, focuses on the role of plant genomics in offsetting issues such as extreme cold, drought, and other natural disasters to ensure a steady food supply, ties in well with their research in Trent’s Emery Lab. Here, they are working alongside renowned Biology professor, Dr. Neil Emery, one of the world’s leading experts in the study of plant hormones, on a new biofertilizer that encourages plant growth in drought conditions.
The team conducted most of their research using the state-of-the-art mass spectrometry equipment in Trent’s Water Quality Centre, the most comprehensive mass spectrometry facility in Canada, and cultivated a naturally occurring mechanism that transforms plant waste (methyl alcohol) into growth-promoting hormones.
“Plants are naturally conservative – they start to shut down quite quickly, even in mild droughts when they stop producing seeds,” says Professor Emery. “But this research has identified strains of a beneficial bacteria— methyl bacteria — that turns methyl alcohol into a hormone that boosts plant growth and helps through some of those mild episodes.”