Enhancing rice production during climate change in Malaysia

A Malaysian rice variety gives higher yields with less fertilizer compared to two other varieties grown in Southeast Asia. This could be key to increasing food security in times of climate change, according to a recent analysis published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science (JTAS).

Rice field in Malaysia. Source: Wikimedia

Rice is the most common grain in Malaysia, both in production and consumption. Malaysia’s rice production, however, accounts for only a fraction of total yields in Asia – approximately 0.4% in 2011 – according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This is partly due to the limited land available for growing the crop and because the country does not produce its maximum potential yield, according to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

Demand for rice is growing in an increasingly challenging environment as the consequences of climate change and global population growth continue to unfold. An increased application of nitrogen fertiliser could enhance rice yields to some extent, but this is not economical as the researchers point out. What’s more, nitrogen does not improve the plant’s tolerance to uncertain climatic conditions.

As an important nutrient for plants, increased levels of nitrogen are normally thought to lead to increases in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into energy for growing.

In a JTAS research paper, Tiara Herman and colleagues from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus found that a Malaysian rice variety called MR253 showed higher levels of photosynthesis when it was given less nitrogen compared to two other Southeast Asian rice types. This indicates that MR253 has a more efficient mechanism of nitrogen absorption and distribution than the other varieties.

The researchers argue that optimising the photosynthetic mechanism of the Malaysian rice would result in higher yields, without increasing fertiliser usage. They add that the MR253 variety may have a lower susceptibility to intense lights, considering that it needs less nitrogen than other rice varieties to photosynthesise.

Herman’s team concludes that by reducing the amount of fertiliser and making the crop’s photosynthesis more efficient, this could offer a sustainable solution to enhance Malaysia’s food supply in unpredictable conditions.

For further information please contact:

Tiara Herman
School of Biosciences
University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Email: [email protected]

About Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science (JTAS)
Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science (JTAS) is published by Universiti Putra Malaysia in English and is open to authors around the world regardless of nationality. The journal is published four times a year in February, May, August and November. Other Pertanika series include Pertanika Journal of Science & Technology (JST), and Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities (JSSH).

JTAS aims to provide a forum for high quality research related to tropical agricultural research. Areas relevant to the scope of the journal include: agricultural biotechnology, biochemistry, biology, ecology, fisheries, forestry, food sciences, entomology, genetics, microbiology, pathology and management, physiology, plant and animal sciences, production of plants and animals of economic importance, and veterinary medicine. The journal publishes original academic articles dealing with research on issues of worldwide relevance.

Website: http://www.pertanika.upm.edu.my/

The papers are available from these links:

For more information about the journal, contact:

The Chief Executive Editor (UPM Journals)
Head, Journal Division, UPM Press
Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (R&I)
IDEA Tower 2, UPM-MDTC Technology Centre
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 Serdang, Selangor

Phone: +(603) 8947 1622 | +(6016) 217 4050
Email: [email protected]

Date of Release: 31 August 2015

The Chief Executive Editor, UPM Journals

Published: 31 Aug 2015

Contact details:

Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) 43400 UPM Serdang Selangor Malaysia

+603 8947 1622
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http://www.pertanika.upm.edu.my/ Pertanika Journal website
http://www.pertanika.upm.edu.my/Pertanika%20PAPERS/JTAS%20Vol.%2038%20(3)%20Aug.%202015/02%20JTAS%200670-2014%20(Short%20Comm).pdf Original research paper