Guntur V. Subbarao investigates how plants maintain soil health — and how capitalizing on their natural defenses might help us reduce fertilizer leakage and improve crop quality.

Why you should listen

Guntur V. Subbarao is a senior research scientist and group leader for the "biological nitrification inhibition" research team at Japan's International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS). There, he researches the process by which plants naturally limit nitrate production and nitrous oxide emissions. Through this research, he and his colleagues aim to build new technology to optimize nitrogen use in soils, limiting nitrogen leakage and nitrous oxide emissions while improving crop yields and quality.

Subbarao holds three patents on nitrification inhibitors and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the crop science department at the University of Saskatchewan and worked as a team member of the Advanced Life Support systems group at NASA-Kennedy Space Center, where he researched the role of plants in long-term life support systems for space travel. In March 2022, Subbarao and his team were selected by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) to receive the Cozzarelli Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences.

Guntur V. Subbarao’s TED talk

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Live from TED2022

Regeneration: Notes from Session 8 of TED2022

April 13, 2022

Session 8 of TED2022 focused on tackling climate change — in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the evolving conditions on Earth and regenerating what we’ve already lost. The session was also linked to TED’s climate project, Countdown, launched in 2020 with the goal of championing and accelerating solutions to the climate crisis. […]

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