Mohamed Hijri: A simple solution to the coming phosphorus crisis
Mohamed Hijri - Biologist
Mohamed Hijri studies arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), seeking to understand the structure, evolution and reproduction of these organisms, which form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. Full bio
by asking you a question:
with the blue algae problem?
it's a serious issue.
blue algae-contaminated water,
I won't be talking about blue algae.
I'll be talking about the main cause
the phosphorus crisis.
about the phosphorus crisis today?
that nobody else is talking about it.
I hope that the general public
and this issue.
in this situation with blue algae?
that it comes from how we farm.
and to produce a better yield.
that is without precedent.
a crash course in plant biology.
in order to grow?
needs light, it needs CO2,
it needs nutrients,
are essential chemical elements:
that is linked to phosphorus.
the most problematic chemical element.
you will have seen
and where we are today.
This is a very important point.
what the phosphorus issue is.
in several molecules,
is phosphorus-based --
These are called phospholipids.
ATP, is phosphorus-based.
phosphorus is a key component of DNA,
and which is shown in this image.
phosphorus is a key player.
from the soil, through water.
from the things we eat:
eat better than others.
which speaks for itself,
as intensive agriculture.
on the use of chemical fertilizers.
we would not manage to produce enough
7 billion of us on Earth.
there will be 9 billion of us.
Do we have enough phosphorus
where do we find our phosphorus?
100 percent of a given dose of phosphorus.
Eighty-five percent is lost.
ending its journey in the lakes,
which leads to the blue algae problem.
something that is illogical.
but only 15 percent goes to the plant.
is that it is very expensive.
out the window,
that's what is happening here.
depends on phosphorus.
to the plant, all the rest is lost,
this phosphorus from?
of an extraordinary article
about the phosphorus crisis.
which is becoming increasingly scarce,
Politicians and scientists are in agreement
for a phosphorus crisis.
is an open-pit mine in the U.S.,
of the dimensions of this mine,
the little crane you can see,
we talk about global warming,
the phosphorus crisis.
oil is something we can replace.
but phosphorus is an essential element,
and we can’t replace it.
of the world's phosphorus reserves?
of where we are today.
for phosphorus reserves.
it will all be gone.
I’ll be retired by then.
for a major crisis,
of this problem.
We are faced with a paradox.
will be available.
the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization,
in 2050 than we do today.
but we'll need to produce more food.
or an alternative
that has existed for a very long time,
that is very mysterious,
and yet also extremely complex.
for over 16 years now.
for my laboratory research.
with the roots.
and mutually beneficial association
of a mycorrhiza.
all by itself.
which surrounds it.
the root is ineffective.
in its search for phosphorus.
to seek out phosphorus.
the root’s one-millimeter scope
for 450 million years.
has evolved and adapted to seek out
and to put it to use,
in the real world, is a carrot root,
with its very fine filaments.
we can see that this mushroom
between the root's cells,
a typical arbuscular structure,
the exchange interface
that mutual exchanges will occur.
I’m going to reduce it to 25 percent.
most will benefit the plant,
will remain in the soil.
we don't even need to add phosphorus.
I showed you earlier,
it is in insoluble form.
of dissolving this insoluble form
for the plant to use.
here is a picture that speaks for itself.
in a field of sorghum.
produced using conventional agriculture,
the dose was reduced to 50 percent,
we achieved a better yield.
that this method works.
Mexico and India,
and in several other cases,
any phosphorus at all,
and drawing it from the soil.
but not in the other.
and yellow a weaker yield.
I have invented nothing.
for 450 million years,
modern-day plant species to diversify.
that is still undergoing lab tests.
and commercialized worldwide.
that people are not aware of it.
are still not aware of this problem.
will alleviate some of the pressure
on the world's phosphorus reserves.
I am a scientist and a dreamer.
what my retirement dream is,
that phosphorus peak,
"Made with mycorrhiza,"
About the speaker:Mohamed Hijri - Biologist
Mohamed Hijri studies arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), seeking to understand the structure, evolution and reproduction of these organisms, which form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots.
Why you should listen
Mohamed Hijri is a professor of biology and a researcher at the plant biology research institute (l'Institut de recherche en biologie végétale) at the Université de Montréal. His work focuses on the most common and widespread symbiotic relationship on earth -- between plant roots and a type of fungi found in the soil called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). These fungi improve plant growth by increasing roots' ability to absorb phosphorus, while also boosting resistance to pathogens.
As Hijri points out in his talk, the study of AMF and a deeper understanding of them could have big implications for agriculture and could help divert us from an impending crisis -- that we are quickly running out of phosphorus.
Mohamed Hijri | Speaker | TED.com