Rice Doesn’t Play Well With Others

640px-Rice_Plants_(IRRI)Agricultural research is a critical element of humanitarianism and economic development across the globe. Studying staple crops such as wheat, corn, and rice has enabled millions of lives to be saved over the past few decades. One recent development in the study of rice has the potential to improve our understanding of the way that plant interacts with other plants around it.

With the increase of next-generation planting techniques, such as intercropping and companion planting, developing staple strains that can “get along well with their neighbors” would be highly beneficial, since this is something rice has a unique problem with.

According to information released by Cornell University, The Jander Lab at the Boyce Thomson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) has made an important discovery about this property of rice crops. BTI Professor Georg Jander “suspects that rice plants use b-tyrosine for allelopathy—a phenomenon where a plant gives off chemicals into the surrounding soil that stop competing organisms from encroaching on their territory.” This mechanism allows rice to battle weeds and other unwanted flora to improve its own survival.

If this mechanism could be modified, then—theoretically—rice crops could be planted in closer proximity to other flora, making their implementation even more versatile.

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