Hydrogen sulfide - an unpleasant smell for gas inhalation is lethal. He has more than once became the cause of the mass extinction of species. At the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago, it led to the destruction of three-quarters of all species on Earth.
But small doses of hydrogen sulfide can significantly improve the growth of plants, which will dramatically increase the world’s supply of food and raw materials for the production of biofuels, the study, University of Washington.
The discovery was made quite by accident, when the study of toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide on the plant by mistake has been added just one tenth of the planned amount of the substance. The results were so staggering that scientists did not believe in them until they repeated the experiment. Still in disbelief, the researchers repeated the experiment many times, and now "virtually assured" in the results.
"All previous experiments have investigated the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the plants at high concentrations," - said the biologist Frederick Dooley, who led the study.
In high concentrations - from 30 to 100 parts per million parts of hydrogen sulfide water of the substance is lethal to humans. The scientists used a much lower concentration - one part per billion of hydrogen sulfide parts water to irrigate wheat and legumes. The optimum was watering once a week - an increase in the frequency of the plants died, and a decrease - the effect is decreased.
Wheat sprouted in just a day or two, instead of four or five days. In the case of legumes germinated 60-70% of the total instead of the normal 40%.
"They grow faster and produce roots and leaves at a higher rate. Essentially, we have accelerated the process of growing plants," - he said. Thus productivity almost doubled.
Similar results were obtained in additional experiments with corn, carrots and soy.
This method may soon begin to take root in the production of algae for biofuel.