Agriculture is facing a great challenges these days: Given the steadily growing world population and a measurable climate change, spaces available for agriculture are stagnating in the industrial countries. At the same time, the demand for food and agricultural commodities is rising, for example, for energy production or raw materials needed in manufacturing. One way to satisfy the growing demand for agricultural products consists in improving crop productivity. The methods of molecular biology can make a substantial contribution to this end.
One innovative approach comes from the University of Bremen: The research group led by professor Rita Gross-Hardt has developed a method which some day will allow them to combine the genetic profiles and breeding advantages of three partner plants. The so-called HIPOD method (high-throughput polypaternal breeding design) creates plants which result from polyspermy, i.e. the fusion of one egg cell with more than one sperm cells. Due to the additional set of genes, the progeny will display a higher ploidy level and carry the genetic information of three parents.
The success of the method has already been demonstrated in model plants. The next steps consist of exploring the applicability of the system to crop plants.
In Germany, the successful developments in plant breeding made it possible to increase the yields per hectare by up to 20 percent within the last 20 years. Regardless of the progress made, plant breeding is still a time consuming process. Techniques accelerating breeding thus have a high economic potential.
Fertilization of a plant with the pollen from two fathers
European patent application
Official file number: 16179967.1
University of Bremen; Centre for Biomolecular Interactions Bremen (CBIB)