Norwich Research Park occupier, PBL Technology, have had their invention of the GR4F technology published in Nature Online. The study, conducted by Oxford University in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Science, focused on high-yielding dwarf varieties of cereal (otherwise known as Green Revolution Varieties) and reducing the need of large amounts of nitrogen-containing fertilisers to grow these crops.
GRV crops are inefficient at utilising nitrogen due to the growth-inhibiting protein DELLA but dwarf cereals are useful in the industry due to their higher yield on shorter stems than traditional cereals. This means that in order to benefit from their higher yield farmers must use massive amounts of fertiliser which can be both expensive and damaging to the environment.
This study identified a new gene variant of these cereals that increased the protein GRF4, discovered by PBL Technology. GRF4 stimulates other genes in plants cells: the more GRF4 protein present, the better nitrogen uptake and the higher the yield of the crop. Therefore, tipping the DELLA-GRF4 balance in favour of the GRF4 protein could reduce the need for high fertilizer levels when growing these particular crops.
To view the Nature article click here