BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Scientists in southwestern Idaho are experimenting to find out if bacteria can stop an invasive weed that is taking over 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.

The results are huge, cheatgrass-filled landscapes that cycle through frequent wildfires. But scientists have discovered some bacteria can 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 five years.

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