Performance Plants Solves Decades-Old Drought-Tolerance Puzzle

July 19, 2005

Release Date: July 19, 2005

KINGSTON, Ontario, Canada — Performance Plants Inc. has announced the successful completion of field trials using a novel technology that enhances crop yield while protecting against drought stress.

Data gathered from three years of extensive field trials in multiple sites have shown that transgenic canola plants grown with the company’s Yield Protection Technology (YPT™) consistently out-yielded the controls by up to 26% under various water stress and optimal conditions.

The findings, published recently in the on-line edition of The Plant Journal, represent a significant breakthrough in solving the drought stress problem, which has been profoundly affecting crop yield worldwide.

Although researchers have attempted for several decades to develop crops that can cope with drought stress, relatively little progress has been made, as the drought tolerance gained from these attempts often results in lower seed yield, says Dr. Yafan Huang, corresponding author of The Plant Journal paper and Chief Scientific Officer of Performance Plants. “The ability to maintain or enhance crop yield under well-watered or drought conditions is a very important aim for plant biotechnologists, since high yield is a major benefit for both farmers and consumers.”

“The revolutionary aspect of this technology is that the drought tolerance and yield protection mechanism is controlled by a built-in molecular switch that is only turned on when plants sense lack of water in the soil,” he says. “This cleverly engineered mechanism allows plants to achieve maximum productivity under different growth conditions.”

Dr. David T. Dennis, President and CEO of the company, says “This is one of the first examples of the next generation of GMO technologies that is demonstrated at the level of the field, and it involves manipulating the plant’s own genes. For this reason, we believe this study is fundamentally important in providing a solution for the enhancement of crop productivity worldwide.”

Given current global conditions, developing a drought tolerance technology to protect crop yields is of paramount importance. Dr. Charles Arntzen, Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair and Regent’s Professor at Arizona State University, and long-time member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, specializing in plant biotechnology, comments “In the last 50 years, our global population has increased from around 2.5 to 6 billion persons but arable land remained nearly constant. As we have intensified agriculture to produce more food for a burgeoning population, about half of our freshwater ecosystems have been lost. Creating more water-efficient crops is essential in coming decades if we hope to meet further population growth, as well as the increases in global affluence and corresponding desires for improved foods.”

Performance Plants continues to test its YPTTM technology for the fourth year in canola while developing the technology in other important crop species such as corn, soybean and cotton.

About Performance Plants
Performance Plants Inc., founded in 1995, focuses on gene evaluation and the development of agronomically important plant traits. Performance Plants creates value by bringing innovative crop technologies to the market. The company has established global product development agreements with strategic partners in the corn, soybean, cotton, turf and ornamentals markets. The Company’s head office and Gene and Trait Discovery Centre are located in Kingston, Ontario. Its Crop Development Centre is in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Peter Matthewman,
Vice-President, Business Development
Tel: 613.545.0390
Fax: 613.545.3618

Lynn Breker
Communications and Public Relations Officer
Tel: 306.668.7708
Fax: 306.975.3942

2004-2005 News Release