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Companies developing
drought-tolerant crops


Advanta and Bioceres aim to develop drought-tolerant sorghum, rice, cotton and brassica crops.

Advanta is one of the world’s largest seed research and marketing companies. Bioceres S.A. is an Argentinean biotech company. The research and commercial development agreement targets abiotic stress.

Originally discovered in sunflowers, the gene is triggered or induced under drought or water stress conditions. Gene expression is associated with tolerance to both drought and salt stress, a feature Advanta plans to develop further with different gene promoter combinations.

“Drought and water stress are serious challenges to food security and production sustainability of agriculture,” says Jerry O’Rear worldwide sorghum breeder, Hereford, Texas.

He says Advanta is bringing the latest technologies to help farmers manage water and maximize production under stressful conditions.

“We recognize that water is going to be in great demand in the centuries to come, and we are making efforts to address this issue through the use of biotechnology,” says V.R. Kaundinya, CEO and managing director of Advanta. “These technologies will be very relevant for developing countries like India, as well as for the developed markets like the USA. Bioceres has exciting technology in this field, and we are happy to partner with them in this process.”

Sorghum is grown on more than 100 million acres worldwide as an important cereal grain crop.

Kaundinya says the drought-tolerant technology from Bioceres adds to the Advanta breeding program that builds on salt-tolerant and nitrogen-use-efficient technology, allowing Advanta to expand its global impact with sorghum.

“Many sorghum-growing areas of the world, which are also growing in population, are challenged by soil salinity and scarce supplies of fresh water for irrigation,” he says. “Increasing yields for food and feed in these environments is critical.”

Sweet sorghum

In addition, sorghum has potential as a biofuels source.

By combining technologies such as drought and salt tolerance with nitrogen use efficiency, Advanta expects to use its biotechnology to develop a sweet sorghum biofuels crop that will be an efficient source of alternative fuel.

The company says this can be done while reducing the environmental impact and requiring less fresh water.

For more on Advanta and its products, you can go online to www.advantaus.com.

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.