Bayer opens wheat breeding station in Germany

by Eric Schroeder
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MONHEIM, GERMANY — Bayer CropScience has opened a new European Wheat Breeding Center in Gatersleben, Germany. The center will be used for developing wheat varieties with higher yields and enhanced properties for the central European market, as well as for coordinating all of Bayer’s wheat-breeding activities in Europe.

“The inauguration of the European Wheat Breeding Center is another important milestone for our activities in the area of seeds and traits,” said Professor Wolfgang Plischke, member of the Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for innovation, technology and sustainability, at the opening ceremony. “It is an enormous challenge for scientists all over the world to safeguard and improve the global food supply.”

Elmar Weissmann, head of the European Wheat Breeding Center, said important research targets include increasing yields and promoting efficient nutrient use. The center also will examine ways to adapt wheat varieties to climate factors such as drought or heat.

The center will use a range of technologies, including marker-assisted breeding to accelerate the implementation of the declared breeding objectives. Bayer said the Gatersleben site is suitable for this work due to its good infrastructure, soil conditions and climate.

In May, Bayer unveiled plans to build a North American wheat breeding station in Nebraska. Other local stations are planned in Europe and Australia as well as, in the medium term, in Asia and Latin America. In addition, a network of alliances with leading international research institutions is being set up to put the latest procedures in biotechnology into practice and thus accelerate the rate of breeding progress, Bayer said. Bayer’s most important wheat-breeding center is located in Ghent, Belgium.

Bayer invests approximately €720 million worldwide in the research and development of crop protection agents and seeds every year and plans to increase this budget to approximately €850 million by 2015. The introduction of the first wheat varieties is not anticipated before 2015.

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