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PLoS One. 2018 Jan 26;13(1):e0191296. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191296. eCollection 2018.

Biochar amendment changes jasmonic acid levels in two rice varieties and alters their resistance to herbivory.

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School of Applied Biosciences, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Republic of Korea.
Department of Agriculture Extension, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Buner, Pakistan.
Department of Botany, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Pakistan.
UoN Chair of Oman's Medicinal Plants & Marine Natural Products, University of Nizwa, Nizwa, Oman.


Biochar addition to soil not only sequesters carbon for the long-term but enhances agricultural productivity. Several well-known benefits arise from biochar amendment, including constant provision of nutrients, increased soil moisture retention, decreased soil bulk density, and sometimes the induction of systemic resistance against foliar and soil borne plant pathogens. However, no research has investigated the potential of biochar to increase resistance against herbivory. The white-backed plant hopper (WBPH) (Sogatella furcifera Horváth) is a serious agricultural pest that targets rice (Oryza sativa L.), a staple crop that feeds half of the world's human population. Therefore, we investigated the (1) optimization of biochar amendment levels for two rice varieties ('Cheongcheong' and 'Nagdong') and (2) subsequent effects of different biochar amendments on resistance and susceptibility of these two varieties to WBPH infestation. Initial screening results for the optimization level revealed that the application of biochar 10% (w/w) to the rooting media significantly improved plant physiological characteristics of both rice varieties. However, levels of biochar amendment, mainly 1, 2, 3, and 20%, resulted in negative effects on plant growth characteristics. Cheongcheong and Nagdong rice plants grown with the optimum biochar level showed contrasting reactions to WBPH infestation. Specifically, biochar application significantly increased plant growth characteristics of Nagdong when exposed to WBPH infestation and significantly decreased these characteristics in Cheongcheong. The amount of WBPH-induced damage to plants was significantly lower and higher in Nagdong and Cheongcheong, respectively, compared to that in the controls. Higher levels of jasmonic acid caused by the biochar priming effect could have accumulated in response to WBPH infestation, resulting in a maladaptive response to stress, negatively affecting growth and resistance to WBPH in Cheongcheong. This study highlights the importance of investigating the effects of biochar on different rice varieties before application on a commercial scale to avoid potential crop losses.

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