You often hear about men who try, in many ways, to protect and save the environment but... have you ever heard about a plant fighting against global warming and drought?
A ground breaking technology that enables our green friends to improve their drought resistance, strengthening growth and productivity in dry weather conditions comes from China. The Chye Lab at the University of Hong Kong, led by Professor Chye Mee Len and funded by the Wilson and Amelia Wong Endowment Fund, has identified a gene, the ACBP2, from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana which encodes an acyl-CoA-binding protein (ACBP) and confers drought tolerance. The increase in ACBP2 protein in the plant promotes stomatal closure, reduces water loss and increases the forbearance of water lack. Arabidopsis, chosen as a model plant for its characteristics (a small genome, a short life cycle and a well-developed genetics) has allowed researchers to achieve fundamental knowledge for applications in more complex plant species.
The technology, currently with patent pending in different countries, has just been licensed to Agragen LLC, an internationally recognized agricultural company specializing in the development of new varieties of Camelina sativa, an high adaptability plant that does not require fertilizers and pesticides, used for the production of biofuel and biolubricant. Hence, generating potentially drought-tolerant Camelina species means increasing the production of renewable energy.