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Scientists seeing if bacteria can stop cheatgrass invading western states

Posted at 10:54 AM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 12:55:52-05

Scientists in southwestern Idaho are experimenting to find out if bacteria can stop an invasive weed that is spreading throughout the West.

Cheatgrass gets its name by sending out early roots and cheating other plants of water in the spring.

Then it dries out in the summer, becoming a powerful catalyst for wildfires that kill neighboring plants and destroy habitat needed by sage grouse and other wildlife, experts say.

The results are huge, cheatgrass-filled landscapes that cycle through frequent wildfires.

But scientists have discovered some bacteria can now stop cheatgrass root growth, and controlled rangeland experiments started earlier this year are testing their effectiveness.

Some results are expected within a year, but more will be known in about five years, according to the scientists.

(by Associated Press)