Could produce the same amount of grain using less water, fertilizer and nutrients
Aside from arable land, most farm crops require significant amounts of water, fertilizer, nutrients and pesticides to grow. While specialized breeding is often used to help produce plants that require less of these inputs, Purdue University researcher Burkhard Schulz has found a way to create tiny versions of plants that suffer no reduction in yield through the addition of a cheap and widely available chemical.
In previous research, Schulz, an assistant professor of plant biochemical and molecular genetics, had found that using the chemical brassinazole to inhibit the steroid function in corn plants resulted in tiny versions that had only female sex characteristics. But at a cost of as much as US$25,000 a gram, the chemical was prohibitively expensive, prompting him to search for a cheaper alternative.
He found a much cheaper option in the form of propiconazole, a fungicide used to treat fungal dollar spot disease on golf courses. Not only does it cost around just 10 cents a gram, but it is also more potent than the much more expensive brassinazole. It is also recognized as a safe chemical for humans with Schulz pointing out that, “they treat golf courses with it. People are around it every day.”
Schulz’s previous work adding brassinazole and altering genes to disrupt steroid production produced short, feminized versions of corn plants that developed more kernels where pollen would normally grow. His new findings show that the same results can be achieved using the cheaper and widely available fungicide propiconazole.
via Gizmag – Darren Quick
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