Oct. 18, 2022
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346, StannE@missouri.edu
Richard Ferrieri never thought a simple bottle of liquid smoke would change the trajectory of his team’s research. Originally, Ferrieri and a team of researchers at the University of Missouri focused on studying how soil, saturated by the intense smoke caused by wildfires, alters plant growth. But after they began their research, they made a surprising discovery with the popular food additive — and they believe the finding could one day be used to improve the health of food crops.
Ferrieri, a research professor in the Department of Chemistry and investigator at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), said when the team added liquid smoke to the soil where a plant is growing, the researchers found it could enhance the plant’s natural defenses and increase its ability to resist pests and diseases. Liquid smoke, created by condensing smoke from burning wood, was used to provide a simulation — in a laboratory setting — of the smoky conditions a wildfire could create.