First stress-tolerant soybean gets go-ahead in Argentina
Nature Biotechnology, vol. 33 , nº 7, july 2015
A locally-made transgenic stress-tolerant soybean has passed the first of three regulatory reviews in Argentina, putting it onthe path to be the first soybean in the world with such a trait tobe commercialized. The technology is slated to improve yield by an average of 10% and was developed by Rosario, Argentina–based Bioceres and Davis, California–based Arcadia Biosciencesin a joint venture called Verdeca.
Key to the technology is that it improves yield in both drought conditions and in normal conditions, says Raquel Lia Chan, a researcher at Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina, and the National Scientific and Technical ResearchCouncil (CONICET), whose institutes licensed the technology to Bioceres in 2012. Yields tend to improve by 14% in water stress conditions and 7% in good conditions, according to Verdeca’s five years of field trials, says Federico Trucco, CEO at Bioceres.In absolute numbers, the yield gain is 300 additional kilogramsper hectare, he says. That’s important to growers, who will be paying a premium for the seeds and will expect a return on their investment, even when the weather is good.
The trait works by enabling the crop to continue to be productive for longer periods during water stress. “Crops tend to shut down fairly quickly when they are under stress. The trick here is to make them think they are not under stress so that they can continue moving forward with photosynthetic machinery a little longer”.