A genetically altered type of rice that uses less nitrogen is the result of Chinese researchers’ work. In actuality, 40% to 70% more food is produced. In many places of the world, rice serves as the main source of food. Fertilizer is a key component of modern agriculture, and a large portion of that fertilizer is made from so-called natural gas, which is more than 90% methane.
Natural gas, according to LNG2019 , accounts for up to 90% of the price of fertilizer. At the same time that Russia continues its violent assault on Ukraine, the price of fertilizer is also rising quickly due to the rising cost of natural gas. New research into methods of growing food while using less nitrogen-based fertilizer is consequently required. The researchers just just published their findings in the journal Science. . The introduction is given here.
The pressure on global food supply is exacerbated by factors such as rising meat consumption, rapid population expansion, and increased usage of crops for non-food and non-feed reasons. At the same time, the environment and human health are seriously endangered by the over use of nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture. Intensified breeding and genetic engineering efforts are required to produce new crop varieties with higher photosynthetic capacity and improved nitrogen use efficiency in order to achieve the yield increases necessary and make agriculture more sustainable (NUE). The lack of knowledge about regulator genes, which may be able to coordinately improve carbon absorption and nitrogen use, is a major reason why development has been slow.
According to ArsTechnica , the researchers started by examining proteins known as transcription factors, which frequently regulate the expression of a collection of genes that are frequently engaged in different facets of a single physiological function. In this instance, transcription factors that were already known to control photosynthesis were the main focus.
They searched through a list of 118 transcription factors previously found to control photosynthesis in rice and maize in order to locate those that were also increased in response to light and low nitrogen levels in order to find the ideal target. Once they had located one, they created transgenic rice lines that produced an abundance of it. According to Ars, overexpressing a transcription factor like this is like to asking to speak with the manager instead of being passed around between various customer care representatives in various departments. That serves as a decent analogy.
The genetically modified rice plants were planted in fields with various climatic conditions, including subtropical fields in Zhejiang province, tropical fields in Hainan province, and temperate grounds close to Beijing. All of the rice plants showed increased photosynthetic capability and improved nitrogen usage efficiency over the period of three years.
Compared to rice of the wild type, they contained more chlorophyll and larger chloroplasts. Additionally, compared to wild-type rice, they had roots that were more effective at absorbing nitrogen and shoots that were more effective at transporting that nitrogen. Even though the plants received less nitrogen fertilizer throughout growth, this increased their grain output.
Transgenic plants planted hydroponically and in rice paddies in other trials performed just as well. Similar results were obtained by overexpressing the same transcription factor in a more deluxe variety of rice japonica as opposed to the oryza sativa used in the majority of the other investigations. The most widely recognized model organism in plant biology, Arabidopsis, as well as wheat were employed by the researchers to test their novel method. As with the experimental rice plants, both showed the same increases in productivity while using less nitrogen.
The researchers propose genome editing as a potential alternative to the transgenic methods they employed in other crops to increase production. Plants that produce more food with less nitrogen-based fertilizer may become crucial to preventing widespread starvation in many parts of the world as growing seasons shorten due to drought and extreme heat.
THE CONCLUSION Many people associate genetically modified food with terrifying ideas, despite the fact that most of the food we consume now has undergone some form of modification since Gregor Mendel started testing peas behind the parsonage almost two centuries ago.
Some individuals term genetically altered plants “Frankenfood,” while others question whether it is wise to let huge corporations possess the seeds that society depends on to exist, given that businesses rarely have their customers’ best interests in mind. In this century, fertilizer use has skyrocketed. It is ultimately a formula for disaster to use fossil fuels to sustain ourselves at a time when pollution from fossil fuels is endangering human survival on our planet.
Do you value the unique reporting and cleantech news coverage on CleanTechnica? Think about signing up as a patron on Patreon or as a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador. Don’t miss a cleantech story, will ya? Register for daily news updates from CleanTechnica by email. Or follow us on Google News Want to advertise with CleanTechnica, send us a tip, or propose a speaker for our podcast CleanTech Talk? You can reach us here.