TEL AVIV, April 19 (Reuters) - Ben-Gurion University signed an agreement to collaborate with Bayer BioScience NV to develop solutions to help plants cope with extreme temperatures and limited water availability, the university said on Sunday.
Ben-Gurion, located in Israel’s Negev desert, said the agreement builds upon results from Simon Barak’s laboratory at the university’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research.
Barak’s team is identifying genes that allow plants to tolerate the harsh environmental stresses characteristic of arid regions.
Two of these genes have been studied in detail and the team found that by removing either of the two genes, the tolerance of the model plant, Arabidopsis, to heat, salt and drought could be increased.
BioScience is one of three business groups of Bayer CropScience (BAYE.BO), a subsidiary of Germany’s Bayer AG BAYG.DE with sales of 6.4 billion euros in 2008.
The agreement signed between BGN Technologies — the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University — and Bayer CropScience will allow the identification of additional genes that have an effect on making plants more “stress-resistant”.
Barak said the new collaboration will allow his team to further sift through the estimated 30,000 Arabidopsis genes to identify additional candidate stress tolerance genes.
BioScience has more than 2,100 employees worldwide and is headquartered in Lyon, France.
Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by David Cowell