University Helps Breed Heat-, Drought-Resistant Crops
The University of Life Sciences in Tartu has begun participating in "3to4," a five-year European Commission project that aims to develop plants that are resistant to heat and drought.
The main objective of the newly-launched project is to turn so-called C3 plants, which are less efficient in carbon absorption, into C4 plants, which have higher carbon usage levels and can thus photosynthesize more efficiently in hot and dry areas.
The results could have a positive impact, for example, on the cultivation of wheat, much of which is grown in the world's hot and dry areas keeping the yields low, said professor Ülo Niinemets, one of the project's coordinators.
"In Estonia as well, the average wheat harvest is quite small - 2.5 tons per hectare - while in [the moist climate of] Ireland the figure reaches 8.5 tons per hectare," said Niinemets.
The 8.94-million euro project involves work by 19 research institutions and universities from 11 countries, including China, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.
The initial task of the Estonian university will be to test various transgenic rapeseed strains.