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Plants are exposed to a variety of stress factors which can have a negative effect on their growth and health. This can be due to insects, fungal infections, weeds, bacteria or viruses, for example, all of which are known as “biotic” factors.
The “abiotic” stress factors include drought, heat, cold and soil salinity. These factors are responsible for the sometimes dramatic yield losses in many regions of the world. Bayer CropScience is responding to these challenges with a chemical and a biological approach. “Confidor™ Stress Shield Inside” is the proprietary name under which the company is already marketing active ingredient formulations capable of protecting against both biotic and abiotic stress factors. Recent research has also shown that this technology, when used in the insecticide Gaucho™, can make rice plants more resistant to fluctuations in the salt content of brackish water.
For almost a decade Bayer has been working intensively on plants which have marked tolerance to cold, heat and drought, can cope with very salty soil, and flourish in regions in which the soil offers few nutrients and little water.
Bayer CropScience is also focusing its plant biotechnology research on new solutions to the stress-related loss of energy in plants. The PARP protein plays a key role in this process as it consumes a great amount of energy when the plant is under stress, and this leads to yield losses. Initial field trials have shown that canola plants with genetically enhanced properties are better able to withstand drought conditions and other forms of stress. Significant increases in yield compared with plants which are not stress-resistant have also been achieved under field conditions.