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Crop Biotech Update

New Bavarian Research Association to Prepare Plants for Climate Change

July 30, 2010

The University of Würzburg, together with three Munich institutes of higher education and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, collaborated to form a new Bavarian research association called Forplanta. The scientists involved in the association are anticipating the effects of climate change which could threaten agricultural yields. Thus, they will study how crops could respond to stresses such as heat, drought and pest infestation. They also aim to enhance the efficiency of the hormone abscisic acid, so that plants can still grow even at minimum amounts of water. Aside from exploring on the life sciences, they will also tackle social science issues involved in genetic engineering through the Institute for Scientific Issues related to Philosophy and Theology at the Munich School of Philosophy.

The climate is changing at a fast rate in many areas of the world, faster than the ability of plants to naturally adapt to stress. "Green genetic engineering should close this gap," says University of Würz Professor Rainer Hedrich. "But even with this targeted and therefore faster optimization there is no time to lose. This is because it is also important that we make useful plants and crops fit to fight the pests that climate change will bring."

The original article is available in German at http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/en/sonstiges/meldungen/detail/artikel/pflanzen-g/.