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NYU to Study Response of Rice to Environmental Change

Farmer with harvested rice (Oxfam America)

(Oxfam America)

The National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Program has awarded a $3.6 million grant to New York University to study the response of rice to environmental change. NYU’s Michael Purugganan and Richard Bonneau, who are part of the university’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, will head the study, and collaborate with Endang Septiningsih of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

International Rice Research Institute says almost half of the world’s population depends on rice as a staple food. Rice provides 21 percent of global human per capita energy, says IRRI, and 15 percent of per capita protein, even though the protein content of rice is modest.

Plants are continuously exposed to environmental signals and must respond to the dynamic conditions found in nature. Because so much of the world relies on rice as a food source, its survival around the globe is considered vital.

The researchers will explore how the gene networks in the rice leaf are linked to changing temperature and water availability conditions, as well as other environmental factors. For the study, they expect to conduct research in the lab as well as develop computer models.  They also plan to analyze gene expressions of rice in a variety of terrains, from crops grown on hillsides to those harvested in paddy fields.

The research results are expected to allow plant breeders to better understand how plants genetically respond to changes in temperature, as well as develop varieties that can withstand drought conditions.

Read more: Study Highlights Crop Regions At Risk from Climate Change

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