Environmental factors like heat and cold often determine how good the harvest is. These conditions put plants "under stress", so they often do not provide the expected yield. That is why researchers are developing stress-tolerant plants that are more resistant to drought, for example.
The inspiration for the development of droughttolerant crops is provided by nature itself. There are plants, such as cacti and mosses, that are naturally capable of surviving in hot, dry regions. BASF Plant Science is looking into why these plants can manage to survive in such conditions. With the knowledge gained, agricultural crops such as corn, soy and wheat will be optimized.
In order to develop such plants, they need to determine which genes in cacti and mosses are responsible for drought tolerance. With the help of genetic engineering, BASF's researchers have already succeeded in identifying over 100 of these genes.
They have already had their first success in trials with model plants: The genetically modified plants survived for a fortnight without water while the conventional plants dried up. The next step is to transfer the selected genes to agricultural crops and to test them in the greenhouse orlater on in field trials.