Checking the next generation: in a Bayer CropScience greenhouse in Ghent, biotechnology experts Jean Broadhvest and Kathleen D’Halluin check young cotton seedlings that have been given new traits. In 2011, more than two-thirds of all cotton fields worldwide were planted with genetically modified (biotech) varieties.
Cotton fibers are a key raw material for the textile and paper industries, and a valuable oil can be extracted from cotton seeds. However, the plant is very sensitive: yields drop significantly if it suffers the effects of pests, competition from weeds or drought. Biotechnology is helping to safeguard cotton yields for the future. Scientists at Bayer CropScience are using an innovative method called directed nuclease editor, or DNE for short. With it, selected genes can be incorporated into the cotton genome with greater accuracy, for example herbicide tolerance or insect resistence genes that make the plant more efficient in its challenging environment.
On the way to a "super yield"
The dream of the perfect cotton plant which delivers a plentiful harvest with high quality fibers despite adverse climatic conditions is getting ever closer thanks to this new technology. What is more, it gives Bayer researchers new possibilities for increasing the crop's efficiency. In the future, additional crop plants will also benefit from the new technology. Scientists are planning further projects with rice and soy. Click here to find out which developments are making the revolutionary gene transfer possible.