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Monsanto, BASF Scientists Disclose Discovery of Gene Conferring Drought Tolerance in Corn Plants
Date:6/9/2009

Gene Provides Yield Stability During Periods of Inadequate Water Supply

ST. LOUIS and LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany, June 9, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and BASF scientists unveiled the discovery that a naturally-occurring gene can help corn plants combat drought conditions and confer yield stability during periods of inadequate water supplies.

The companies stated that they will use the gene in their first-generation drought-tolerant corn product which is designed to provide yield stability to their farmer customers. This product will be the first biotechnology-derived drought-tolerant crop in the world.

The announcement comes at a time when recent studies, including one by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, are warning of declining crop yields and global food shortages as a result of climate change. According to a United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization report prepared for ministers of the G-8, the number and duration of dry spells, especially in already drought-prone areas, is expected to increase.

The companies said that the drought-tolerant corn contains the cspB gene, from Bacillus subtilis. CspB codes for an RNA chaperone, which are commonly occurring protein molecules that bind to RNAs and facilitate their function. The gene was first identified in bacteria subjected to cold stress conditions and further research has demonstrated that cspB helps plants cope with drought stress. Monsanto scientists have published those findings in a peer-reviewed paper in the journal, Plant Physiology.

In corn, cspB works by helping the plant maintain growth and development during times of inadequate water supply. A corn plant is particularly vulnerable to drought during reproductive
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SOURCE Monsanto Company
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