From drought-resistant to flood-resistant: These varieties of rice can overcome floods by stretching their grassy stems to reach the air above the water. Like a snorkel, the elongated stem allows the plant to exchange gases with the atmosphere while most of it is submerged.
Japanese scientists in August reported that they had not only found the genes responsible for this trait (and named them SNORKEL1 and SNORKEL2), but had also successfully introduced those genes into other, more highly productive rice varieties. The hope is to engineer rice that combines these two key traits, helping Asian farmers prosper even during monsoon seasons.
Image: M. Ashikari / Nature