Researchers, which included a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, studied 19 varieties of rice. They found a novel class of chemicals that are released by the roots of rice crops. These chemicals assist in the metabolism of soil microbes and nitrogen capture.
There are more than 120,000 types of rice, but researchers picked the 19 for the study based on certain criteria, including the popularity of the rice type. Japonica rice, which is what California specializes in, was included because of its popularity around the world. It is the rice used in sushi.
Researchers were able to identify witch varieties produce the chemical in the roots and therefore use nitrogen more efficiently and leave less nitrogen to be absorbed by the soil and water. The hope is the information will encourage growers around the world, and particularly in Asia, to grow the more nitrogen-friendly varieties.
Read more on the study at University of Toronto’s website.