Biotech Updates

Zeigler: Pstol1's Application to other Crops May Have a Great Impact on Global Agriculture

January 23, 2013

In one of his commentaries, Dr. Robert Zeigler, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said that the possibility of transferring the gene Pstol1 (phosphorus starvation tolerance) to other crops, especially on cereals and legumes, could have a massive impact on global agriculture. Pstol1 is a gene from a traditional rice variety that can grow in very low phosphorus soils and still can produce a good yield. The mechanism appears to be that Pstol1 promotes much more vigorous root growth that allows the plant root system to effectively penetrate and explore the soil volume to extract its phosphorus content.

Zeigler cited the situation of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa who will no longer have to worry in terms of phosphorus fertilizer application to their nutrient-poor acid soils, and the farmers in the US, China, Europe, Latin America, and Australia having only to add minimal amounts of phosphorus to their crops. He added that this could also have an enormous impact for the economic and environmental situation of the world as phosphorus fertilizer causes water pollution worldwide.

View Dr. Zeigler's blog at