PhD defence: Rice in a different light

PhD defence M. Huber MSc

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Rice feeds more than half of the world’s human population. Driven by climate change, rice farming is shifting to direct seeding, where weeds, traditionally suppressed by standing water, are becoming a major problem. In urgent need for sustainable weed-control, here we investigated how rice shoot architecture could be optimized for weed suppression.

We explored the natural diversity of rice varieties and defined which traits are important for increased shade of rice shoots. In a genomic analysis, we found the genes encoding these relevant traits. In a field study, the selected rice varieties suppressed weed growth by 40 to 70%. Insights from the field assay, and the genetic information, can now be used for future rice-breeding and will help to reduce the amount of herbicide usage and enable a more sustainable and climate-change resilient rice-farming.

Rice is also an interesting study object. Surprising results were found when treating rice with far-red light. Far-red light is known to be a signal for plants for dense vegetation, to which they react with strong elongation and reduced formation of leaves.

However, we observed that rice plants were growing much faster and bushier under far-red light. Gas-exchange measurements proved that photosynthetic activity was almost doubled. This is a very new discovery in the field of photobiology, where to date it was thought that plants cannot use far-red light efficiently for photosynthesis.

Start date and time
End date and time
Location
Academiegebouw, Domplein 29
PhD candidate
M. Huber MSc
Dissertation
Rice in a different light: shoot architecture from genome to field
PhD supervisor(s)
prof. dr. R. Pierik
Co-supervisor(s)
dr. R. Sasidharan
dr. K. Kajala