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Bayer CropScience, VIB-UGent Team on Crop Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Bayer CropScience and researchers from VIB-UGent in Flanders, Belgium have started a collaboration to develop crops with higher yields and better tolerance to environmental stresses such as drought or soil salinity.

Under the collaboration, the partners will undertake two genomics-focused projects funded by the Flemish government's agency for innovation, science and technology, the IWT.

VIB is a non-profit life sciences institute in Flanders and includes regional partners such as Ghent University, University of Antwerp, University of Leuven, and Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

In one project, researchers will study epigenetic differences between different crop varieties that could be used to select new characteristics for breeding.

In another project, researchers will use computational analysis to study the genes that are involved in the response of plants to stressful situations. This study will focus on the model crop Arabidopsis thaliana, mouse-ear cress, and will expand in later phases to include research into genes in oilseeds and cereals.

"The aim is to identify the genes and their networks involved in stress tolerance and to validate them experimentally. This should lead to plants with increased yield stability," VIB-UGent Project Leader Frank Van Breusegem, said in a statement.