Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New forage plant prepares farmers for climate changes

Date:
April 4, 2012
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Plant researchers have developed a new type of the corn-like crop sorghum, which may become very significant for food supplies in drought-prone areas. Unlike the conventional drought-resistant sorghum plant, which is an important crop in Africa, China and the USA, this new type does not form toxic cyanide when exposed to long-term drought.

Researchers, including plant researchers from the University of Copenhagen, have developed a new type of the corn-like crop sorghum, which may become very significant for food supplies in drought-prone areas. Unlike the conventional drought-resistant sorghum plant, which is an important crop in e.g. Africa, China and the USA, this new type does not form toxic cyanide when exposed to long-term drought. Consequently, farmers in drought areas will no longer need to discard their sorghum crops in future.

Sorghum, or durra, is an important forage crop in many countries, for example the USA, Africa, China and Australia.

The plant is grown instead of corn because it produces more biomass and better withstands long periods of drought.

However, when exposed to drought, the sorghum plant produces large amounts of dhurrin, which forms toxic cyanide, i.e. Prussic acid.

Forced to discard crops

Farmers thus face a big dilemma. During a period of drought when they most need food for their animals, they are often forced to discard their sorghum because they do not know how poisonous it is and how much the animals can eat without suffering from cyanide poisoning.

In Australia alone, farmers lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year as a result: "The fact that the sorghum plant produces large amounts of the natural cyanogenic glycoside dhurrin when exposed to drought is a serious problem for farmers in many parts of the world. Dhurrin breaks down to form toxic cyanide or Prussic acid when an animal eats the plant. So when there is a drought and most need for forage, the farmer can no longer use the crop and it goes to waste," says Professor of Plant Biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen, Birger Lindberg Møller .

New, toxic-free sorghum strain is a breakthrough

Recently, Birger Lindberg Møller and his research group have, in collaboration with, for example, Monash University in Australia, developed a sorghum plant which is unable to produce Prussic acid.

Instead of using genetic engineering, the researchers used plant breeding and advanced biochemical and molecular biological screening methods: "This is a breakthrough which, globally, can be very important for agriculture, especially in warmer climes where climate change is expected to cause longer and more frequent periods of drought in future. Especially inAfrica, where farmers cannot afford to buy new forage in periods of drought, it is a huge step forwards that they will now be able to feed their animals with sorghum they can grow themselves," says Birger Lindberg Møller.

The University of Copenhagen and Monash University have submitted a patent application.

Copenhagen Plant Science Center gathers plant research

Professor Birger Lindberg Møller is an internationally leading researcher in explaining the way in which plants produce bioactive natural substances. This research area will be a key part of the research profile for the future Copenhagen Plant Science Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "New forage plant prepares farmers for climate changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404102939.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2012, April 4). New forage plant prepares farmers for climate changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404102939.htm
University of Copenhagen. "New forage plant prepares farmers for climate changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404102939.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins