Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

With fungi on their side, rice plants grow to be big

Date:
June 11, 2010
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
By tinkering with a type of fungus that lives in association with plant roots, researchers have found a way to increase the growth of rice by an impressive margin.

By tinkering with a type of fungus that lives in association with plant roots, researchers have found a way to increase the growth of rice by an impressive margin. The so-called mycorrhizal fungi are found in association with nearly all plants in nature, where they deliver essential nutrients -- specifically phosphate -- to plants in return for sugar. The findings are nevertheless a surprise, according to researchers reporting online on June 10th in Current Biology because there has been little evidence thus far to suggest that crop plants actually respond to the fungi.

"Global reserves of phosphate are critically low, and because the demand for phosphate goes hand in hand with human population expansion, it is predicted that there will be major shortages in the next few decades," said Ian Sanders of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. "Unfortunately, most of our important crop plants do not respond strongly, if at all, to inoculation with these fungi. This is especially so for rice, the most globally important food plant. There are no clear reports that rice benefits from inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi."

That is, until now. In fact, the researchers started with a strain of mycorrhizal fungus of the species Glomus intraradices that clearly didn't benefit rice. They then took advantage of the fungus's unusual genetics. A single fungal filament can contain genetically distinct nuclei. Those distinct nuclei can fuse together, mixing genes up in different combinations, and fungal spores can also end up with different complements of genes, the new research shows. As such, the supposedly clonal fungi maintain a degree of genetic variation that had been overlooked.

"It turns out we can very simply manipulate their genetics to produce fungi that induce up to a five-fold growth increase in this globally important food plant," Sanders said.

The genetic changes that the researchers produced in the fungi led to changes in the activity of important genes in the rice, they report. Those affected genes are known to be involved in establishing the mutually beneficial relationship between plant and fungus and in the transport of phosphate at the interface between fungus and plant.

Sanders emphasized that the genetic manipulation the researchers undertook didn't involve any insertion of new genes into the fungal genome. It rather relied on the same biological processes of genetic exchange and segregation that normally take place in the fungus. "What we have done with these fungi is not much different from what plant breeders, and farmers before them, have done to improve crops," he said. "The only difference is that the genetics of these fungi is a little bit more unusual, and no one thought it worth doing."

On a cautionary note, Sanders did emphasize that the plants they studied were grown in a greenhouse in Switzerland under conditions that only mimicked those found in the tropics. "This is clearly not at all the same environment as a rice plant growing in a real paddy field," he said. It remains to be seen whether the same growth benefits will apply in practice.

"However," Sanders said, "our study clearly shows that the potential is there to manipulate the genetics of the fungus to achieve greater crop yields."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Caroline Angelard, Alexandre Colard, Hιlθne Niculita-Hirzel, Daniel Croll, and Ian R. Sanders. Segregation in a Mycorrhizal Fungus Alters Rice Growth and Symbiosis-Specific Gene Transcription. Current Biology, June 10, 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.05.031

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "With fungi on their side, rice plants grow to be big." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610125619.htm>.
Cell Press. (2010, June 11). With fungi on their side, rice plants grow to be big. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610125619.htm
Cell Press. "With fungi on their side, rice plants grow to be big." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100610125619.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) — Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins