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Fungus Protects Rice from Challenges of Climate Change

To ward off famine and potentially save millions of lives, researchers are looking for a little help from a tiny fungus.

By colonizing seeds with spores from naturally occurring fungi, experiments show that rice -- a major world food source -- is able to withstand stresses associated with climate change, such as drought and soil salinity. The results were published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the journal PLoS ONE.

"What makes this remarkable is that we can move these fungi around," said USGS researcher Rusty Rodriguez. "The contemporary thought is that the plant itself adapts to the stress, but what we've been observing is that that isn't always the case. Plants can have associations with fungi and then tolerate certain types of stresses."

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