US scientists are using bacteria to prevent wildfires in Idaho and Oregon. Recently, fires in this area have been exacerbated by the spread of an invasive plant known as cheatgrass, which forms dry and fine straw that catches fire easily in arid conditions. Researchers from the US Geological Survey found that the bacterium
suppresses the growth of cheatgrass’s roots, preventing it from outcompeting native grasses. The land could be cleared of cheatgrass after five years of treatment with the bacteria, the researchers say.