Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Adaptation of Rice

14.07.2011
Symbiogenics --- a New Strategy for Reducing Climate Impacts on Plants

Rice – which provides nearly half the daily calories for the world’s population – could become adapted to climate change and some catastrophic events by colonizing its seeds or plants with the spores of tiny naturally occurring fungi, just-published U.S. Geological Survey-led research shows.

In an effort to explore ways to increase the adaptability of rice to climatic scourges such as tsunamis and tidal surges that have already led to rice shortages, USGS researchers and their colleagues colonized two commercial varieties of rice with the spores of fungi that exist naturally within native coastal (salt-tolerant) and geothermal (heat-tolerant) plants.

The experiments were "quite successful," said author and Seattle-based USGS researcher Rusty Rodriguez, Ph.D. The rice plants thrived, achieving notable increased tolerance to cold, salt and drought, even though the rice varieties they tested were not naturally adapted to these stressors. Conferring heat tolerance to rice is the next step for the research team since rice production decreases by 10 percent for every temperature increase of 1-degree centigrade during the rice-growing season.

"This is an exciting breakthrough," Rodriguez said. "The ability of these fungi to colonize and confer stress tolerance, as well as increased seed yields and root systems in rice – a genetically unrelated plant species from the native plants from which the fungi were isolated -- suggests that the fungi may be useful in adapting plants to drought, salt and temperature stressors predicted to worsen in future years due to climate change."

In fact, said Rodriguez, using these tiny fungi – called endophytes – is one of the only real strategies available for mitigating the effects of climate change on plants in natural and agricultural ecosystems. "We have named this emerging area of research "symbiogenics" for symbiosis-altered gene expression. The DNA of the rice plant itself, however, is not changed," Rodriguez added. "Instead, we are re-creating what normally happens in nature. And with rice yields projected to decrease by 15 percent in developing countries by 2050, such strategies are needed."

The way it works is this. All plants seem to have symbiotic endophytes - microscopic fungi or bacteria - living in them that do not cause disease in the plant. The kind of endophytes that Rodriguez and his colleagues examined are all mutualistic, meaning the plant and the fungi have a close and positive relationship that bestows benefits on both partners: stress tolerance for the plant, nutrients and a lack of competition for the fungus.

The scientists took fungal endophytes from dunegrass, a species exposed to seawater and therefore salt-tolerant, and colonized the rice plants and seeds with its fungal spores, which germinated and infiltrated the plant’s tissue. The results, said Rodriguez, were dramatic: the endophytes reduced water consumption of the plant by up to one half, and increased its growth, the number of seeds it produced, and how much it weighed by as much as 50 percent.

"Conventional thinking was that the dunegrass is salt tolerant because of genetic adaptations that occurred over time (the process of Darwinian evolution), but we found that when we removed the fungus from dunegrass, the plants were no longer salt tolerant," Rodriguez said. "This means that plants in natural habitats may not be adapting themselves genetically to the stress, but instead are establishing a beneficial partnership with a fungus that makes them more salt tolerant."

During the last 40 years of climate change, the authors pointed out, the minimum air temperature in rice-growing season has increased in China and the Philippines, resulting in a substantial decrease in rice yields there, decreases predicted to continue. "Collectively, these events, along with an increasing world population, have contributed to shortages and increased prices of rice, exacerbating hunger and famine issues globally."

The authors emphasized that even though it may be possible to compensate for some of the effects of climate change by incorporating, say, earlier-producing varieties of rice into agricultural practices, the adaptive capabilities of rice will be what ultimately determines how severely climate change affects the annual yield of rice.

The research, Increased Fitness of Rice Plants to Abiotic Stress via Habitat Adapted Symbiosis: A Strategy for Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change, was published in PLoS One, and is available online.

Rusty Rodriguez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usgs.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>