Plants get a growth boost from doses (small ones) of hydrogen sulfide

A bean plant treated with hydrogen sulfide (top) is substantially bigger at two weeks after gestation than the control plant (bottom) that was untreated.

A bean plant treated with hydrogen sulfide (top) is substantially bigger at two weeks after gestation than the control plant (bottom) that was untreated.

Low doses of hydrogen sulfide, the pungent stuff often referred to as sewer gas, could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new University of Washington research shows.

Frederick Dooley, a UW doctoral student in biology who led the research, said (here) he started off to examine the toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide on plants but mistakenly used only one-tenth the amount of the toxin he had intended.

The results were so unbelievable that he repeated the experiment.

Still unconvinced, he repeated it again – and again, and again.

In fact, the results have been replicated so often that they are now “a near certainty,” he said.

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