Biotech Updates

On Mosses and Biotechnology in Germany from a German Professor's Interview

August 26, 2011

Professor Dr. Ralf Reski, head of the Department of Plant Biotechnology of the University of Freiburg, Germany responded to an interview on various topics related to stress tolerance. He mentioned the causes of plant stresses such as biotic (diseases and pest) and abiotic (drought, submergence, salinity, extreme temperatures) stresses to be the factors that affect growth, development and productivity of crops. His research on mosses Physcomitrella patens led to the identification of genes that are not present in other plants. The genes mediate the plant's tolerance to stress through the biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Mosses can also be used in the production of proteins for therapeutic antibodies in a shorter time of 8 weeks compared to the usual route of using mouse.

When asked about his opinion on Germany's strong opposition to agricultural biotechnology, he said that "Abundance is the key word in Europe. We have the luxury of deciding whether we want genetically modified crops or not. However, genetically engineered plants are essential to feed starving populations in other countries." He is hopeful though that when the country starts recognizing the benefits of the technology in pharmaceuticals, agriculture and food production, and its environmental impact, it won't be too late.

Read the full interview at