Increased crop yield through better insight in molecular networks

Top Quote The VIB Department for Plant Systems Biology at Ghent University and BASF Plant Science announced today a cooperation agreement in plant biotechnology. Together they will develop a novel technology to identify genes and gene networks that control crop yield. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) February 07, 2012 - The project, designated TopYield, will explore and unravel the large natural variability of plant growth under different conditions, including drought stress.

    The TopYield project will run for several years. It involves about 20 full-time researchers of VIB at Ghent University and is the largest collaboration that has ever been entered into by VIB in the field of plant biotechnology. The BASF Plant Science activities for this project will focus on testing and validating the research results in its laboratory, greenhouse and screening facilities and will be mainly handled by the company’s research site at Ghent, Belgium.

    The research project is supported financially by IWT – the Flemish government agency for innovation by science and technology. This collaboration will help strengthen both the competencies of VIB and the BASF Plant Science site at Ghent in the highly innovative research area of agricultural productivity.

    “We urgently need a new revolution in agriculture. The world population is expected to increase up to 9 billion people by 2050,” said Dirk Inzé, project leader and director at the VIB Department for Plant Systems Biology at Ghent University. “With TopYield, we hope to contribute to the improvement of agricultural crops through advanced breeding and biotechnology.”

    “This highly innovative and very exciting project will help us strengthen our efforts in developing first class yield traits,” said Dr. Jürgen Schweden, Senior Vice President, Research & Development, BASF Plant Science. “We see the improvement of yield as imperative for a sustainable agriculture. VIB has an outstanding research expertise in the area of plant biotechnology and is therefore an ideal partner for BASF Plant Science.”

    Currently, plant scientists are able to identify single genes that have an impact on yield. With the innovative TopYield approach, BASF Plant Science and VIB aim to further develop and validate a new technology that allows researchers to understand and predict the synergistic effect of gene networks on crop characteristics such as yield or drought tolerance.

    About VIB
    VIB is a life sciences research institute in Flanders, Belgium. With more than 1200 scientists from over 60 countries , we perform basic research into the molecular foundations of life. VIB is an excellence-based entrepreneurial institute that focuses on translating basic scientific resultsinto pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial applications. VIB works in close partnership with four universities − UGent, K.U.Leuven, University of Antwerp and Vrije Universiteit Brusseland is funded by the Flemish government. VIB develops and disseminates a wide range of science-based information about all aspects of biotechnology. For more information:

    About IWT
    The Institute for the promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) was established in 1991 by the Flemish government as a regional public institution to provide R&D and innovation support in Flanders. For this purpose, IWT has several financial tools and an annual budget of 288 million EUR (in 2007) available to support projects. In addition to direct funding, a variety of services is provided to the local industry in the field of technology transfer, partner search, information about international subsidy options, etc. IWT has also an important co-ordination mission, aiming at a strong co-operation between all organizations in Flanders, offering technological innovation services to companies. Over the years IWT has expanded into the knowledge center for R&D and innovation in Flanders. More info on

    About BASF Plant Science
    BASF Plant Science – a BASF group company – is one of the world’s leading companies providing innovative plant biotechnology solutions for agriculture. Today, more than 840 employees are helping farmers meet the growing demand for improved agricultural productivity and healthier nutrition for humans and animals. BASF Plant Science has developed an unparalleled gene discovery platform focusing on yield and quality traits in crops such as corn, soybean and rice. Jointly with leading partners in the seed industry BASF Plant Science is commercializing its products. Current projects include higher yielding row crops, nutritionally-enhanced corn for animal feed or higher content of omega-3’s in oil crops for preventing cardiovascular diseases. For more information, visit

    About BASF
    BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. We combine economic success, social responsibility and environmental protection. Through science and innovation we enable our customers in almost all industries to meet the current and future needs of society. Our products and system solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring healthy food and nutrition and helping to improve the quality of life. We have summed up this contribution in our corporate purpose: We create chemistry for a sustainable future. BASF posted sales of about €63.9 billion in 2010 and had approximately 109,000 employees as of the end of 2010. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at or in the Social Media Newsroom at .

    Media Inquiries:


    Thomas Deichmann
    Tel: +49-621-60 28 574
    E-mail: thomas.deichmann ( @ ) basf dot com


    Joris Gansemans
    Tel: +32-9-244 66 11
    E-mail: joris.gansemans ( @ ) vib dot be

    Britta Stellbrink
    Tel: +49-621-60 28 701
    E-mail: britta.stellbrink ( @ ) basf dot com

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