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Palacký University
09-22-2014, 09:37, Age: 6 y.

Olomouc Plant Growth Stimulator Granted EU Patent

By: Martina Šaradínová

Lukáš Spíchal from the Centre of the Haná Region research team

A plant growth stimulator developed by scientists from the Centre of the Haná Region for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research (CHR) in Olomouc, in collaboration with Freie Universität in Berlin, has obtained a European patent. The preparation, working name PI-55, is able to efficiently block a plant’s perception of its own natural hormones, which positively affects the plant’s growth, increasing root system development and resistance to stress.

Hormones, specifically cytokinins, are crucial for a number of processes connected to plant growth regulation and development. The contribution of the experts from Olomouc and Berlin lies in the discovery of substances blocking the perception of cytokinins in the plant, thus altering plant development and growth. The technology of cytokinin antagonists and the first preparation based upon this principle was described in 2009. In July 2014, the whole process culminated in being granted a European patent.

“The plant has receptors in order to perceive its own chemical signals – hormones. Our agent, however, blocks these receptors – to put it simply, it blinds the plant with regard to perception of its own hormones. Should this agent be used in agrochemical treatment, there would be no need to use large doses. Another great advantage is that it is completely non-toxic,” said Lukáš Spíchal from the research team at the CHR.

No similar agent on the market

The stimulators that have been used to date function on different principles. Preparations based on the mechanism of cytokinin antagonists are still absent on the market. The patented substance presents zero ecological danger, stimulates the growth of root systems, and increases both yields and resistance of plants against stress.

“Poppy, for instance, is sensitive to drought. The substance has an anti-stress effect, however, so it helps the plant to endure conditions better. Testing has been successful on wheat, barley, maize, and rape. The patented substance may contribute in agriculture whenever plant growth needs to be stimulated, so it may help to solve pressing issues related to feeding the growing population,” added Spíchal. The European patent is a prerequisite for commercial uses of the substance, still being derived.

Broadened territorial range of the patent

The European patent is a follow-up on the Czech patent from 2009, increasing the patent protection of the growth stimulator and its territorial range. The invention of this substance was achieved by the research group of the Growth Regulators Laboratory, led by Prof. Miroslav Strnad, who is also responsible for the discovery of substances on the basis of plant hormones with antitumour properties, such as olomoucine and roskovitine.

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