Plant Impact closes R&D collaboration with Ghent University

(04-05-2017) Ghent University signs R&D collaboration agreement with Plant Impact: novel compounds to improve drought tolerance in crops.

Estimated cereal production losses due to drought and extreme heat across the globe 1964 - 2007 reduced production by 10%. Plant Impact estimates that in 2007, this was equivalent to nearly 16 billion USD of lost yield for wheat growers alone.  The impact of drought on cereal crops like corn, rice and wheat, is expected to continue to increase in the coming decades.

This new collaboration grants Plant Impact exclusive development access and a licensing option to a novel group of phosphonamide pyrabactin analogues. These chemistries were derived from the investigation of biological responses in plants by prominent biologist Prof. Dr. Danny Geelen who is a Director in the Department of Plant Production and board member of CropFit, a consortium of researchers from Ghent University with expertise in biostimulants and biocontrol. The patent-pending molecules were designed and synthesized in the laboratory of Prof Dr. ir. Christian Stevens who is Head of the Synthesis, Bioresources and Bioorganic Chemistry Research Group (SynBioC) in Ghent University’s Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and Technology.

Pyrabactin analogues have been found to control the aperture of leaf stomata to reduce water loss from leaves. This can improve the plant’s water use efficiency and increase yield in conditions of drought. The ground-breaking compounds elicit many of the same responses as natural plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) but are more suited to be used by growers as a foliar spray.

Plant Impact’s R&D team, along with academic partners at Ghent University, is working to advance understanding of plant responses to increasing environmental stresses and develop and commercialise unique chemistries which can assist growers in mitigating yield losses due to drought. This new agreement with Ghent University enables the Plant Impact R&D team to carry out full evaluation, glasshouse and field trials with the patent pending pyrabactin analogues, scaling-up existing pipeline projects on mitigating the effects of drought in crops including soybean and wheat, and leading to development and commercialisation of significant new crop enhancement technologies.