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Cover page | Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Plants with higher stress tolerance

Plants with higher stress tolerance

The plants are grown under controlled environmental conditions and exposed to specific stresses, such as drought.The plants are grown under controlled environmental conditions and exposed to specific stresses, such as drought.

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.

Microscopic image of stress tolerant cropsMicroscopic image of stress tolerant crops

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.


The genetically modified rice plants give a yield that is up to 20% higher than conventional varietiesThe genetically modified rice plants give a yield that is up to 20% higher than conventional varieties

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.