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BioAtlantis teams up in €4.9M EU project for drought-resistant crops

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Irish biotech firm BioAtlantis joins the BOOSTER project to enhance drought tolerance in maize and teff cereals



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23 November 2023

BOOSTER project aims to improve drought tolerance in both maize and teff, while simultaneously exploring the potential for transferring species-specific drought responsive features. By exploiting natural genetic variations to achieve drought-tolerant genotypes, and by developing ‘Plant Biostimulants’ derived from living organisms, BOOSTER harnesses the natural resources available to develop new varieties of drought-tolerant agricultural crops.

The €4.9 million project is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe framework programme and will have a four year duration.

Two synergistic strategies will be implemented to achieve BOOSTER’s project goals. Firstly, a new approach will identify genomic variants in regulatory regions functionally associated with drought tolerance. Novel regulatory elements underlying resilience will inform efficient breeding efforts to create new drought-tolerant cereal varieties. Secondly, novel ‘Molecular Priming’ technologies from seaweed and microbial-based biostimulants will be developed by BioAtlantis Ltd. (Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland) and Aphea.Bio (Belgium) respectively, as an eco-friendly approach for improving drought resilience.  The two strategies will be tested in two cereals with different degrees of responsiveness to drought: European maize and Ethiopian teff – a cereal with a high genetic similarity to the desiccation tolerant sister species Eragrostis nindensis.

BioAtlantis is an Irish-owned biotechnology company, employing over 50 people at its headquarters in Tralee, County Kerry. The company is a leading innovator in the Irish bioeconomy and sells to more than 30 countries globally. The company’s involvement in BOOSTER builds on its reputation as a disruptor in the European biotechnology sector and in the delivery of environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions to crop growers worldwide. In BOOSTER, BioAtlantis will focus on developing novel technologies to improve drought tolerance in maize and teff cereal crops, a stress increasingly associated with climate change. This includes the development of ‘Plant Biostumulant products’ and ‘Molecular Priming’ technologies, using natural compounds sustainably derived from marine and terrestrial sources, such as seaweed.

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