Navigation Links
Climate adaptation of rice

Seattle 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.


Contact: Rusty Rodriguez
United States Geological Survey

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. White Mountain Research Station to host climate change conference
3. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
4. Severe climate change costs forecast for Pennsylvania, N.C., Tennessee, N.D.
5. Experts discuss climate change during UH lecture series
6. Dont blame cities for climate change, see them as solutions
7. Green coffee-growing practices buffer climate-change impacts
8. Brookhaven scientists take off for southeastern Pacific climate study
9. Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes photo exhibition draws attention to the impacts of climate change
10. British scientists go cloud-hopping in the Pacific to improve climate predictions
11. Northwest climate change is target of $3.2M in grants to University of Oregon
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/18/2015)... new scientific discoveries deepen our understanding of how cancer ... challenges in better using that knowledge to guide treatment ... children continue to survive pediatric cancer, that counseling may ... John M. Maris, M.D ., a pediatric oncologist ... --> John M. Maris, M.D ., ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , November 17, 2015 Paris ...   --> Paris from 17 th ... DERMALOG, the biometrics innovation leader, has invented the first combined ... on the same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners ... one scanner can capture both on the same surface. ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... -- Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. Dick W. ... --> --> Mr. Boyce ... at TPG Capital, one of the largest global investment ... revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s Operating Group, which ... 1997 to 2013.  In his first role, he served ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) will be ... York on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 ... CEO, will provide a corporate overview. th Annual ... 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . Jim Mazzola , ... corporate overview. --> th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms ... there are no corporate developments that would cause the ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive Council, ... Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing has ... type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community because ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or ... Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the ... on November 23, 2015, which will result in ... giving effect to the issuance of such shares, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: