For the past few years, Mary Lou Guerinot has been keeping watch over experimental fields in southeast Texas, monitoring rice plants as they suck metals and other troublesome elements from the soil.
If the fields are flooded in the traditional paddy method, she has found, the rice handily takes up arsenic. But if the water is reduced in an effort to limit arsenic, the plant instead absorbs cadmium — also a dangerous element.
“It’s almost either-or, day-and-night as to whether we see arsenic or cadmium in the rice,” said Dr. Guerinot, a molecular geneticist and professor of biology at Dartmouth College.
Source: By Deborah Blum, NY Times
April 14, 2014