Crop Biotech Update

Desert Plant May Hold Key To Biofuel Crop Farming in Arid/Semi-Arid Lands

June 27, 2008
Researchers from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom are studying the survival mechanisms of an interesting Madagascan plant, and how the knowledge can be applied for the effective cultivation of crops grown under harsh conditions. The plant, with scientific name, Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi, (common name, “lavender-scallops”), is known to flourish under harsh environments, and has the ability to capture most of its carbon dioxide at night, when the air is cooler and more humid. This “nocturnal-CO2-capturing ability” is usually not common in most plants, and this ability also enables Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi to be ten times more water efficient compared to major crops, like wheat. The novel genes in the plant could “provide a model of how bio-fuel plants could be grown on un-utilized desert and semi-arid lands”. Scientists hope one day, to be able to use the plant’s genetic code to develop a crop able to withstand harsh environmental conditions, so that only non-fertile, marginal lands can be dedicated to biofuel crop plantations. In this way, fertile lands can be devoted entirely for food production.

More information on Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi