October 5, 2012 By News Staff
Answer: transparent soil
A team of researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the University of Abertay Dundee have developed a see-through soil which will enable them to study roots in detail for the first time, according to the James Hutton Institute.
After two years of research to find a compound that could replicate soil chemistry, Lionel Dupuy, a theoretical biologist in the Ecological Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute, and his colleagues were successful with a synthetic composite known as Nafion, often used in power-generating fuel cells. This artificial soil is not especially transparent on its own: It becomes translucent when saturated with a special water-based solution. The product is a substrate which is very similar to real soil in terms of physical and biological variables, such as water retention, ability to hold nutrients and capability for sustaining plant growth.
Image courtesy of the James Hutton Institute
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