WTF? US Geological Survey studying rice, fungus, & climate

From this USGS Press Release. What, you don’t have enough earthquakes to chase or maps to make? Read your mission statement when you applied to congress for funding:

The USGS plays a crucial role in protecting the public from natural hazards such as floods and earthquakes, assessing water quality, providing emergency responders with geospatial data to improve homeland security, analyzing the strategic and economic implications of mineral supply and demand, and providing the science needed to manage our natural resources and combat invasive species that can threaten agriculture and public health. The USGS is working in every state and has nearly 400 offices across the country. To aid in its interdisciplinary investigations, the USGS works with over 2,000 federal, state, local, tribal and private organizations.

Not one thing about agricultural research and climate. Mission FAIL. We have other agencies for this and this is a duplication of services. While the research may have significant merit, USGS appears to be getting too big for it’s britches.

Climate Adaptation of Rice Symbiogenics — a New Strategy for Reducing Climate Impacts on Plants

Released: 7/13/2011 12:37:41 PM

Contact Information:

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

Office of Communication

119 National Center

Reston, VA 20192

Rusty  Rodriguez 1-click interview

Phone: 206-526-6596Catherine  Puckett 1-click interview

Phone: 352-264-3532

Seattle – Rice – which provides nearly half the daily calories for the world’s population – could become adapted to climate change and some catastrophic events by colonizing its seeds or plants with the spores of tiny naturally occurring fungi, just-published U.S. Geological Survey-led research shows.

In an effort to explore ways to increase the adaptability of rice to climatic scourges such as tsunamis and tidal surges that have already led to rice shortages, USGS researchers and their colleagues colonized two commercial varieties of rice with the spores of fungi that exist naturally within native coastal (salt-tolerant) and geothermal (heat-tolerant) plants.

The experiments were “quite successful,” said author and Seattle-based USGS researcher Rusty Rodriguez, Ph.D. The rice plants thrived, achieving notable increased tolerance to cold, salt and drought, even though the rice varieties they tested were not naturally adapted to these stressors. Conferring heat tolerance to rice is the next step for the research team since rice production decreases by 10 percent for every temperature increase of 1-degree centigrade during the rice-growing season.

“This is an exciting breakthrough,” Rodriguez said. “The ability of these fungi to colonize and confer stress tolerance, as well as increased seed yields and root systems in rice – a genetically unrelated plant species from the native plants from which the fungi were isolated — suggests that the fungi may be useful in adapting plants to drought, salt and temperature stressors predicted to worsen in future years due to climate change.”

In fact, said Rodriguez, using these tiny fungi – called endophytes – is one of the only real strategies available for mitigating the effects of climate change on plants in natural and agricultural ecosystems. “We have named this emerging area of research “symbiogenics” for symbiosis-altered gene expression. The DNA of the rice plant itself, however, is not changed,” Rodriguez added. “Instead, we are re-creating what normally happens in nature. And with rice yields projected to decrease by 15 percent in developing countries by 2050, such strategies are needed.”

The way it works is this. All plants seem to have symbiotic endophytes – microscopic fungi or bacteria – living in them that do not cause disease in the plant.  The kind of endophytes that Rodriguez and his colleagues examined are all mutualistic, meaning the plant and the fungi have a close and positive relationship that bestows benefits on both partners: stress tolerance for the plant, nutrients and a lack of competition for the fungus.

The scientists took fungal endophytes from dunegrass, a species exposed to seawater and therefore salt-tolerant, and colonized the rice plants and seeds with its fungal spores, which germinated and infiltrated the plant’s tissue.  The results, said Rodriguez, were dramatic: the endophytes reduced water consumption of the plant by up to one half, and increased its growth, the number of seeds it produced, and how much it weighed by as much as 50 percent.

“Conventional thinking was that the dunegrass is salt tolerant because of genetic adaptations that occurred over time (the process of Darwinian evolution), but we found that when we removed the fungus from dunegrass, the plants were no longer salt tolerant,” Rodriguez said. “This means that plants in natural habitats may not be adapting themselves genetically to the stress, but instead are establishing a beneficial partnership with a fungus that makes them more salt tolerant.”

During the last 40 years of climate change, the authors pointed out, the minimum air temperature in rice-growing season has increased in China and the Philippines, resulting in a substantial decrease in rice yields there, decreases predicted to continue. “Collectively, these events, along with an increasing world population, have contributed to shortages and increased prices of rice, exacerbating hunger and famine issues globally.”

The authors emphasized that even though it may be possible to compensate for some of the effects of climate change by incorporating, say, earlier-producing varieties of rice into agricultural practices, the adaptive capabilities of rice will be what ultimately determines how severely climate change affects the annual yield of rice.

The research, Increased Fitness of Rice Plants to Abiotic Stress via Habitat Adapted Symbiosis: A Strategy for Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change, was published in PLoS One, and is available online.

54 thoughts on “WTF? US Geological Survey studying rice, fungus, & climate

  1. If this has to be funded by a federal agency, the US Department of Agriculture should have done it. I can semi-understand the USGS, along with other federal and state agencies, contributing funding to mapping research related to the spread of weaponized plant pathogens. But spending money on botanical salt tolerance research? That’s mission run, not mission creep.

  2. “Not one thing about agriculture … “
    You JUST quote the mission that says …
    “… providing the science needed to manage our natural resources and combat invasive species that can threaten agriculture … ”
    I agree that this all seems a stretch for USGS, but it IS within the scope of the stated mission.
    REPLY: Meant to say agricultural research – fixed – mapping invasive species threats is not agricultural research IMHO.
    -Anthony

  3. Don’t know whose bailiwick this is, but it’s very interesting research, even after striking the obligatory climate heating boilerplate. Salt tolerance on demand is a big deal!

  4. The only useful government entity to get the ax (that I’m aware of) was the Bureau of Mines. Shows how much those in government understand regarding the ustimate source of commodities (Natural materials are either mined or grown; there is no other source.)

  5. All this for a nutritionally challenged crop? Any berry plant would have 10 times the nutrition and there are some of those, like raspberries, that are suckering weeds! Rice and most grains are low on nutrition and high on glycemic load. Their only saving grace is that they store without refrigeration.

  6. “…[U]sing these tiny fungi – called endophytes – is one of the only real strategies available for mitigating the effects of climate change on plants in natural and agricultural ecosystems.”
    And further USGS research, concucted in conjunction with funding from the USDA, indicates the endophytes taste like… chicken. So, you have a chicken and rice meal, while only paying for the rice. “Neat, huh!?” exclaimed a visibly-excited Rodriquez.
    That was a joke, although I could see it proposed in the next, budget request cycle.

  7. Don’t blame the grunts at the USGS blame the politicians that have forced these studies on them for biodiversity studies and the like. It is the same with our state geologic survey most of the dollars whats left are being spent on what are biology studies. Ohio has a beautiful new geology lab and core depository sitting empty with one part time retired geologist manning it. I understand it is much the same at the USACE.

  8. Another way to make food crops more resistant to salinity in the soil is to have higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Also makes crops more resistant to drought, to heat, and to cold.

  9. Well, to throw a fig leaf out there to cover the USGS’ shortcomings, there are historically dry areas receiving artificial irrigation that have become “salt poisoned” thus making them even more of a “dead area” once agriculture becomes unsustainable. If this research allows these areas to still be used for agriculture, perhaps it can be written off as “managing natural resources.”
    Heh, just noticed something. Given the nature of such historically dry areas, I was going to say that the Bureau of Land Management may have been a better choice to conduct this work. But according to its Wikipedia entry they may have some changed priorities to cope with:

    In one of his last official acts of office, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has helped pave the way for his replacement, Ken Salazar, by authorizing the BLM to establish offices that will expedite renewable energy development on the National System of Public Lands. The new Renewable Energy Coordination Offices will expedite the permitting of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal projects on BLM-managed lands, along with the electrical transmission facilities needed to deliver the energy from those projects to power-thirsty cities.[8]

    The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service issued Records of Decision in mid-January to amend 130 of their land use plans to support the designation of more than 6,000 miles (9,700 km) of energy transport corridors on federal lands in 11 Western States. The amendments were based on analyses presented in a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) that was prepared by the BLM, DOE and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Defense as part of their work to implement the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The PEIS, released late last year, identifies energy corridors in the West for transmission and distribution lines that will help facilitate the development of renewable energy resources. The energy corridors could also carry pipelines for oil, natural gas, and hydrogen. Approximately 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of energy corridors are located on BLM-managed lands, while nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of energy corridors are on U.S. Forest Service lands. Roughly 120 miles (190 km) of corridor segments are on lands managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, and the Department of Defense.[8]

    Gee, looks like the BLM is going to be too busy helping to ram through renewable energy on public lands to do such research. Did the USGS have to pick up the slack?
    (And who are these brilliant geniuses envisioning giant pipelines for Hydrogen?)

  10. “Not one thing about agricultural research and climate. Mission FAIL. We have other agencies for this and this […]”
    Yeah, like NASA. Since they’re not going into space anymore they could pick up the slack. Oh wait… they’re already booked up with Muslim outreach missions.
    Nevermind.

  11. What do you mean – “getting” too big for it’s britches? The whole damn Gov. (from the White House down to the School House) broke out of it’s britches decades ago.
    And nobody “forces” these departments to do studies. These department heads ask for a mountain of money and then have to spend it on something.
    This isn’t about science, it’s about politics. … explore ways to increase the adaptability of rice to climatic scourges such as tsunamis and tidal surges that have already led to rice shortages … Where in the US has that happened? California and Arkansas (the two largest rice growing states) each produce over 2 million tons per year. A quick check tells me not 1 acre of the growing area in either state is any where near salt water or under the threat of tsunamis or tidal surges. Hmm, wonder what the 1,000s of OUR rice farmers think about OUR gov’mnt spending OUR tax dollars to help rice farmers in other countries improve their yields? In areas that are threatened by tsunamis and tidal surges?

  12. Monsanto and other companies are continuously engaged in research to produce better seeds that are resistant to drought, temperature, rodents and pathogens, etc. Market opportunities provide all of the incentives necessary. I am not aware that USGS has the scientific expertise to conduct such research. They should really concentrate on those matters that fit their mission for which they have the experience and demonstrably competence.

  13. Love the salt tolerance. And since it was grown in a global warming agency, it’s BS tolerant as well. Seriously, salt tolerance is all that’s required to have a second green revolution. However, 300mM is about twice the salt concentration of human blood but only about half that of sea water. Did they test it at higher salt concentration?
    I remember a few years back there was a naturally occurring salt-tolerant oil seed that people were excited about. I haven’t seen anything from it since. It, too, was supposed to change the world. Did anyone hear how that turned out?

  14. Ah Yes – But if you are any sort of a government funded agency you can’t even buy a roll of toilet paper without somehow linking it to climate change.
    That is the economic reality of all government funded agencies everywhere in the Western world.
    No climate change = no money

  15. Dear Dr. Rodriguez and other USGS new arrivals to the plant business. About 20 years ago, I worked with a group of consultants on a 5yr economic plan for Guinea Bissau, a little former Portuguese W. African colony. They have these broad, weird estuaries that the tide goes in 50km or so and salt is a problem for agriculture. What was proposed? Why let’s plant salt resistant rice, it would grow great here according to our aggie consultant. So you see, someone sneaked in and long time ago and had this solution that you are probably going to get the Nobel Prize for (they hand them out in cracker jack now). Here is a link to a Bangladeshi success with this salt water rice thingee, too:
    http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=salt%20water%20rice&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA
    “BRRI has been working on salt-resistant strains of food crops, particularly rice, for more than 30 years, with BRRI Dhan 47’s development beginning in 1998”
    While you are away, some agriculturist is going to discover a new type of rock or find a way to predict earthquakes.

  16. I don’t see what the problem is here. The USGS knows there’s money in climate related research, they’re just getting a piece of that green pie that’s all. I don’t blame them one bit. If I worked in some obscure science, I’d find a way to somehow link my completly unrelated research to climate change too. That’s where the money is.

  17. Well, if the results in this study are correct it is a huge win, regardless of the CAGW propaganda such as below…
    “Conferring heat tolerance to rice is the next step for the research team since rice production decreases by 10 percent for every temperature increase of 1-degree centigrade during the rice-growing season
    And with rice yields projected to decrease by 15 percent in developing countries by 2050, such strategies are needed.”
    What does the real world say? http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/X6905E/x6905e08.htm
    Over recent decades, the rice planting area has varied within a relatively small range. In comparison with the 1949 rice area, the rice cultivated area in 1976, which was the largest, only increased by 4.1 percent. However, yield and production of rice in China varied over a larger range. Highest yield in 1997 increased by 234 percent over the yield in 1949. Production in 1997 increased by 313 percent over 1949
    Average annual increase rate of rice yield and production decreased from the 1960’s to 1990’s (Table 2) due to environmental, technical and socio-economic constraints. (Nothing about CAGW here)
    Hum? this study goes through 1998, the warmest year ever right. Well lets see what happend more recently…http://oryza.com/Asia-Pacific/China-Market/10522.html “China Registers Record Rice Yield For 2009”

  18. Pretty cool about the heat tolerance. Unfortunately, they may have discovered that effect too late. What will they do for cold tolerance?

  19. The climate gravy train, that climatic gravy train is so laden with gold it makes the gold rush’s look puny in comparison.
    Ah, well, soon even JPL will do agricultural research . . . oh, wait they already did that. :p
    Climate research looks like it’s going to surpass intelligence research funding (something pretty much everyone researching gets funding for as well), but I think it is still worse in EU though since EU lacks the legal system that says somebody has to be responsible for frakk ups, christ the majority didnt’ even vote in the last EU election, and when those that vote they don’t vote on single politicians but on party lines.

  20. Obviously USGS has a well known reputation as loyal supporters of the warming orthodoxy, but from the other side of the Pacific this still looks pretty strange. Why is this research not the responsibility of the US Department of Agriculture?

  21. Anthony, you goose, this is perfectly in line with the real mission of the USGS and indeed every government entity, which is to perpetuate itself indefinitely while sucking the maximum dollars out of the taxpayers.
    Unfortunately that mission has so far been an epic success.

  22. RE ‘protecting the public from natural hazards such as floods’
    I did read that in the States, following disasterous floods in the 1990s [1993?] the miltary built an extensive system of flood control systems. Over the years these were subverted to create wetland habitats and other eco-friendly objectives, such that when the floods came again this year the defences were useless. No idea if this is correct, but perhaps someone can confirm.
    It reminds of Queensland in Australia. This area suffers from disasterous floods every 21 years. After the previous flood a new dam was built specifically to contain the floodwaters. Unfortunately the governor of Queensland got a ‘green’ advisor who stated these floods were things of the past and that drought was the new norm. Because of this the dam was always kept full so when the floodwaters came they had to release them to flood Queensland. Personally I think the advisor could have been tried for manslaughter – he would have to prove he had good reason to declare the floods no longer posed a threat. Instead he was put in charge of investigating why the floods happened!
    Moral of the story – if you want to protect the public from floods – get an engineer!

  23. Just some FYI: USGS originally got involved in a lot of these things because it was charged with MAPPING their effects. Bureaucratic drift then set in. Also, the quoted document is not a USGS application for funding. It is an appeal from the “USGS Coalition,” a bunch of organizations that depend on USGS for funding. For instance, Craig Schiffries was Director for Geoscience Policy at the Geological Society of America.

  24. I work for the USGS at the National Water Quality Laboratory. (Guess that’s OK, since “assessing water quality” is included in the above mission statement). Since I am not making judgement on our studying rice, fungus, and climate, this may be a little OT.
    I would like to point out that our lab is a “fee-for-service” lab. We receive some base funding in appropriated funds, but must make up the rest through the services we perform. At the end of the fiscal year (or water year, as we call it), we have to be in the black — we cannot have a deficit. Because of that, we also have our own business model. We have to determine how much we charge for our services and why. All other aspects of our operation (such as purchasing new equipment) is included in that business model. A few years ago, when the economy went south, so did our sample income. What did we have to do — lay off contractors, not purchase any new equipment, cut back on spending, not fill vacancies — we even had to implement furloughs — one day a pay period for each lab employee — for about one year. We currently are running on “bare-bones staffing”.
    What is one of our biggest expenses? It is paying the rent on the building. Even though Congress appropriated funds for it, and it is on the federal center, we have to pay rent to General Services Administration (GSA). The rent is high — it is determined by what commercially available real estate rents for in the area.
    One of our biggest “bumper” years for income was about two years before the economic downturn. We were selected for “Competitive Sourcing” — we had to develop a Performance Work Statement (PWS) saying what we do, and then another team had to develop a proposal, saying how we would do the PWS. Our proposal was compared to those received from the private sector. The government paid us to do this — and for the consultants to help us do this. So us “scientists” became “businessmen and businesswomen” for one long, stressful summer (sigh). We won — of course we won — do you think a fee-for-service organization is over staffed, or has inflated personnel grades?
    Just so you know. (I feel better after I got this off my chest).
    If anyone from the USGS is reading, this is my personal opinion and not that of the USGS.

  25. This kind of thing goes back a long way. One of my professors at Stanford worked for the USGS in the pre-war (II) days (he co-authored a couple of terrific Professional Papers there). He told a group of us grad students the following story: FDR would go to a natural bubbling hot-water spa (in Georgia I think it was) and come out of the baths feeling incredibly energized and strong (he was a polio victim).
    He asked the USGS to study the water and determine why. A couple of internal studies found nothing unusual, and FDR was incensed. So he hired a Hungarian “scientist” – for reasons I forget – who conducted a study and determined that the healing powers of the baths came about because it generated cubic bubbles. That was the report tendered the President, and the end of the discussion. The USGS went off to do other things, and FDR found comfort in his truly unique baths.

  26. (Just following up my previous post. You can annotate this if you want.)
    The first words of the actual article are, “The geographic distribution pattern of plants …”
    In other words, this was a mapping study, however the press release may have presented it.

  27. I’ve often queried why NOAA is launching satellites and NASA is studying the temperature of airports around the world (GISS). Now the USGS is surveying genetic engineering?
    May I suggest that the next US government insist, with the budget axe at hand, that these organizations return to core enterprizes. It would be refreshing to see NASA actually exploring space, launching exploration satellites and generally doing the “Right Stuff”.
    Can we spell redundancy, overlap and bureaucratic empire building?

  28. I work at USGS too, as a 40-year research geologist.
    Back when Clinton created the National Biological Service, most federal biologists and ecologists from Fish and Wildlife, Park Service, USGS, BLM, and other Interior agencies were swept up in the new NBS. When the Republicans took back the House in 1994, the whole lot of them got dumped into USGS as the Biological Division (parallel with the mainstream Geologic Division, Water Resources Division, and Topographic Division – that is, the parts of USGS that everyone knew and recognized).
    The fit has never worked, and now the bio/eco crowd has taken over all the programmatic initiative under the rubric of “global change”. It has corrupted everything core to USGS expertise.
    The agency motto morphed into “Science for a changing world”, and now program after program tries to justify their existence by parroting the IPCC party line about 3-5c warming, greater storm intensity and frequency, increased habitat disruption, increased drought, yadda, yadda.
    Historically, USGS was the premier agency that documented the natural variations in earth systems over time periods of centuries, millenia, and millions of years. We have the historical and paleontological and paleobotanical and paleoclimatological evidence that today’s environment is nothing special, nothing “unprecedented”, nothing alarming.
    But all that has “changed”
    A fine, competent, productive science agency slimed by political correctness.

  29. Hoser says:
    July 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm
    What will they do for cold tolerance?

    Hand wave wildly for money to study it, after emitting a rather embarassing ‘oops’.

  30. If you have been wondering why the USGS is not a whole lot further down the road in their core investigations in seismic, the dilution of resources is a smoking gun.
    It’s a wonder they have gotten as far as they have with vulcanism, what with all that distraction going on.

  31. Hi Jim Cole,
    The company I worked for when I retired tried hard to hitch a wagon to USGS programs. Most of their grants were complete in 2007. They involved building GPS sites to measure and record plate boundary movements. They also installed strainmeters. Once the installations were done, there was nothing left but maintenance. They, too, tried to find some AGW work in glacier movement and brainstormed for other possible green proposals, knowing the money was there for that purpose. The “vision” was disgusting because it was obviously a grab for new money. I guess we have to keep scientists employed at something, anything, until something appropriate comes along. Still, it was horrible to watch.

  32. Most of the people who were let go in late 2007 went to a company that “… will collect data across the United States on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. XXXX is a project of the U.S. National Science Foundation, with many other U.S. agencies and NGOs cooperating.”
    “XXXX will be the first observatory network of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales over multiple decades. The data XXXX collects will be freely and openly available to all users.”
    A few were hired by USGS.

  33. More duplication of everything Government equals more debt = more taxes = less jobs = less CO2 via transportation = Obama happy

  34. WTF?
    This is clearly in the domain of the USGS and if you had quoted more than one paragraph from this link that appears at the top of the OP it would be clear to everyone:
    http://www.geosociety.org/geopolicy/news/0806-USGScoalition-FY09HouseTestimony.pdf
    The National Biological Service was integrated into the USGS in 1996. Exactly what other agencies do you suppose this kind of research falls under if not the National Biological Service?
    Sounds like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

  35. Here’s some more data that got missed during the knee-jerk response:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0014823
    Funding: This project was made possible by the permission, assistance, and guidelines of Yellowstone National Park and the University of Washington Cedar Rocks Biological Preserve. This work was supported by the California Rice Research Board (RM-6; 2007, 2008, 2009), United States Geological Survey, and support funding from the National Science Foundation (0414463) and United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (3260-01C). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
    And the first line of the introduction brings the USGS right to the forefront:
    “The geographic distribution pattern of plants is thought to be based on climatic and edaphic heterogeneity that occurs across complex habitats”
    USGS is all about geographic distributions of plants, animals, minerals, and water as well as how they change and how those changes impact the US.

  36. Milwaukee Bob says:
    July 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm
    “Hmm, wonder what the 1,000s of OUR rice farmers think about OUR gov’mnt spending OUR tax dollars to help rice farmers in other countries improve their yields? In areas that are threatened by tsunamis and tidal surges?”
    The 1000 or so rice farms on the Texas and Louisiana coasts probably don’t mind knowing more about salt tolerant rice. I’m sure the rice farmers whose fields were flooded by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are VERY interested.
    http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/publications/agmag/archive/2007/summer/salt+damage+to+agricultural+fields+in+south+louisiana.htm
    Don’t you just hate people who get things all wrong and make a jackass out of themselves?

  37. Dave Springer,
    I was thinking this might have been a good project for the USDA(griculture). They already have about 120,000 employees and a much bigger budget, which is growing annually.
    US$ 109.3 billion (2009)
    US$ 129.3 billion (est. 2010)
    US$ 132.3 billion (est. 2011)

  38. Brings to mind NASA’s Islamic outreach which is also a tad outside the space and aeronatical stuff they are meant to be doing. Threatening pensions when it appears there is a bottomless pit of money for research when you mention climate change, is not a good look.

  39. All the research highlighted on the http://www.co2science web site shows improved growth and increased tolerance to stress by increasing CO2 levels. Rice was one crop plant studied. Rice is also a warm climate grain crop so warmer might automatically mean bigger.

  40. Rice yields in China and the Philippines are increasing…
    Despite being criticized as a poor rice producer because of its status as the world’s biggest rice importer, the Philippines has actually done remarkably well in raising its rice yields from 1.16 tons per hectare in 1960* to 3.59 tons per hectare in 2009**.
    In 2009, Philippine rice yields were actually lower than the previous two years due to the damage done by the tropical storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”. In 2007, average rice yields topped 3.8 tons per hectare and in 2008 they were 3.77 tons per hectare**.

  41. The USGS seems to be imitating the successful model the EPA has developed. It seeks to increase its own bureaucratic power by raising alarms over ubiquitous environmental phenomona (even outside their legislative mandate) and passing regulations which can be used to elicit compliance form a terrified public.
    Only the names of the bogeymen have been changed to protect the empire-builders.

  42. The USGS may study ecology (that’s the biology they mean, since ecological distributions can fall under geology in a biological sense), but modifying crops is the USDA’s job. If I was in the USDA, I’d be making some phone calls, as this is clearly over stretching departmental bounds (unless the USDA already authorized this). After all, modifying crops and associated research has to be tightly regulated and controlled, and that’s part of the USDA’s authority and mandate to control, not the USGS.
    That said, this is kinda amusing research, in the sense of symbiotic fungus enhancement has been studied for decades. These results really aren’t anything new. It’s cool, but I have no doubt it’s already been done.

  43. JimF says:
    July 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Now you’ve done it! All climate related research will now inexorably and inevitably bring to mind the discovery of cubic bubbles, physics be damned!

  44. It has been known for years that beneficial microbes help plants grow better and reduce stress. They do not need to study things we already know.

  45. “Yield decreases by 10% for each 1 degree C rise in temp during the growing season”
    Maybe at constant CO2, but increased CO2 not only increases photosythesis (and hence yield), but also raises the photosynthetic temperature optimum .

  46. Nic says:
    July 14, 2011 at 11:37 am
    It has been known for years that beneficial microbes help plants grow better and reduce stress. They do not need to study things we already know.

    Say what? Induced salt tolerance is, as I noted above, a big deal. Both for coastal and irrigated lands and crops. I doubt much, or nearly enough, is known “already” of the devilish details.

  47. Dave Springer says:
    July 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm
    “WTF?
    This is clearly in the domain of the USGS and if you had quoted more than one paragraph from this link that appears at the top of the OP it would be clear to everyone:
    http://www.geosociety.org/geopolicy/news/0806-USGScoalition-FY09HouseTestimony.pdf
    The National Biological Service was integrated into the USGS in 1996. Exactly what other agencies do you suppose this kind of research falls under if not the National Biological Service?
    Sounds like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed today.”
    The National Biological Service was started in 1993 then three years later ended up inside the belly of USGS.
    “The mission of NBS is to work with others to provide the scientific understanding and technologies needed to support the sound management and conservation of our Nation’s biological resources.”
    Does rice fall under that statement or: “We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.” That the department of agriculture stand for and behind and support.
    Why pay two to do the job of one?

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