The CropPrime consortium aims to develop new ways to protect crops against stressful weather conditions such as drought, heat, cold and water-logging.
Irish biotech company BioAtlantis has joined an international research project to make crops more tolerant to the increasing challenges of the climate crisis.
The project is called CropPrime and involves a pan-European consortium of plant research centres. CropPrime also has support from two research centres based in South Africa and Argentina.
The overall goal of the project is to develop and commercialise environmentally friendly ways to protect plants from “abiotic and biotic stresses”. CropPrime is being funded under the EU’s Horizon Europe Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme.
BioAtlantis develops natural compounds to improve plant, animal and human health. The company said it will investigate the molecular mechanisms that are involved in plant stress and create novel ‘molecular priming’ agents to counteract these stresses.
It is hoped this research will be able to reduce crop yield losses that result from plant stresses.
The Kerry-based company said this project will include focus on strawberries and tomatoes, while bringing together experts in plant systems biology, chemistry, genetics and biostimulant technology.
Other objectives of the CropPrime project include the creation of RNA-based fungicides to reduce fungal infection in crops and the creation of “plant biostumulant products” from natural resources such as seaweed.
It is hoped these initiatives will lead to new agri-tech products that can help farmers protect their crops against stressful weather conditions such as drought, heat, cold and water-logging.
Earlier this week, the World Meteorological Organization warned that there is a 98pc chance that at least one of the next five years “and the five-year period as a whole” will be the warmest on record.
Founded by chartered accountant John O’Sullivan in 2004, BioAtlantis received substantial early investments from the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Fund. The company currently employs more than 50 people at its Tralee headquarters.
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