The hype goes on

“More food at lower cost.”

Now there’s a headline packed with potential. Alas, that’s all it has at the moment, potential. Not to denigrate the science of Angharad R. Jones — known to his pals as Harry — and colleagues at the University of Bristol. ((The full paper is in Nature Cell Biology.)) They’ve done some nifty research into what makes plant root hairs grow. It’s a complex study involving a computer model of where the plant hormone ought to be, and the bottom line seems to be that it isn’t where the researchers thought it would be.

Great. A deeper understanding of the development of root hairs is important. Root hairs, after all, are the basis of the plant’s uptake of minerals and water. But the press release goes well beyond that:

This new understanding will be crucial in helping farmers to produce food sustainably and to reduce fertiliser waste, which can cause severe damage to ecosystems.

I’ve written the odd press release myself, and I know how hard it can be to interest reporters in the small individual bricks that make up the building that is scientific understanding. But this kind of reporting is, I fear, going to lead inevitably to overinflated expectations and crushing disappointment.

If anyone notices.

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