A recent research in Hubei province enables scientists to "vaccinate" rice to prevent major diseases, promote growth and increase production.
Professor Jiang Daohong's team at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, Hubei province, officially introduced the use of plant vaccines for rice earlier this month.
Similar to how human vaccinations work, when inoculated with plant vaccines, rice can enhance its own immunity, preventing destructive diseases and promoting healthy growth.
During a field demonstration and observation event held in Xiangyang, Hubei, it was revealed that rice treated with the plant vaccine showed an average yield increase of 14.85 percent. The number of rice ears increased by 7.79 percent and the thousand-grain weight (a standard representing the weight of 1,000 seeds) increased by 3.87 percent.
Differing from most plant vaccines that rely on chemical substances, Jiang's team took a unique approach by using sclerotinia sclerotiorum, a widely distributed pathogenic fungus, as a mediator, which enhances the plant's broad-spectrum disease resistance while also releasing beneficial fungal viruses into the field, triggering a decline in the pathogenic fungus population's ability to cause disease.
Professor Li Bo from Jiang's team said that, similar to the way a large population of probiotics resides in the human gut, this fungus is advantageous for rice. Consuming rice with this fungus does not have any adverse effects on the human body.
Considered to be original and at an overall international-leading level, this technology was promoted by Hubei in 2023. According to Jiang, plant vaccines represent a new concept in using green methods to control crop diseases. It addresses both the symptoms and the root causes, thus supporting a new round of the reduction of chemical fertilizer and pesticide use.
Yang Zishuo contributed to this story.