Molecular Machines & Industries

Crop Science

What is Crop Science?

Crop Science is a multi-disciplinary field which focuses on research and development of plant-based crops. The crop science definition further includes scientific knowledge and understanding of the cultivation, management, processing and production of crops. Crop Science and agronomy science are often used as synonyms.

One of the key questions in Crop Science is how to reliably obtain high yields. Researchers seek to identify new breeds which are more resistant towards drought, heat stress or other environmental factors which typically have negative impacts on the amount or quality of the harvest.

Why is Crop Science becoming increasingly important?

It is evaluated as the biggest step in mankind’s history when mankind started to settle down and started to grow first grain. This is also the beginning of agriculture and the attempt to breed new grain types which will provide higher yields. From our point of view, these were the baby steps of modern crop and pasture science.

Nowadays, we are facing an increasing world population. Therefore, new breeds are required which will be able to feed the world. On the one hand, this will be achieved by employing breeds which provide high yields. On the other hand, new breeds also need to be resistant against several factors, such as dry and hot summer periods which we will probably face more often in central Europe due to climate change. In addition, plant viruses as well as bacteria, fungi, insects and other pests can threaten farmers especially if they grow crop in large monocultures as many farmers do due to economic reasons. Crop science can help to identify and to develop new strains and breeds which are more resistant to specific pests. This would also lead to a decrease in the application of pesticides which are typically subjected to the plants to prevent reduction or even destruction of the harvest due to pests. Therefore, Crop Science’s meaning for the world in terms of nutrition and environment is wide-reaching.

Apart from huge crop science companies such as Bayer and Monsanto, numerous smaller research institutes are investigating and breeding crops which will be able to meet the requirements of a growing world population. To be able to disperse different breeds, or to separate infected from non-infected cells when studying pests such as plant viruses, specific crop science solutions and tools are required.

How will MMI help you in your research in Crop Science?

With the MMI CellCut and MMI CellEctor, MMI offers professional crop science solutions to isolate single cells which can be used for downstream analysis, such as transcriptomics, or for further breeding and outgrowth.

The MMI CellCut laser microdissection system is able to cut plant tissue such as leaves, plant embryos as well as pollen and grains. With its high-power laser option, also wet and thick tissue can be efficiently excised. Therefore, the instrument can be applied to separate infected from non-infected tissue from any part of the plant body. The MMI CellEctor is optimized to selectively pick single cells or particles from cell culture or suspensions. To isolate single cells or particles, the CellEctor system is using microcapillaries which are controlled by a 3D robot and which are connected to a precise nanoliter pump. As MMI offers dedicated microcapillaries with various diameters ranging from 10 to 160 µm, different sizes of cells or particles can be isolated, such as protoplasts or pollen grains.

To distinguish target cells from surrounding tissue or particles, morphological characteristics as well as fluorescent markers can be applied as the MMI CellCut and MMI CellEctor are microscopy-based systems. Moreover, both systems can be integrated on one microscopy platform and they can also combined with our MMI CellExplorer for automated cell detection. In addition, the systems can also be equipped with our MMI CellManipulator to hold, move and manipulate cells by applying an optical trap, or to measure forces. Contact us to configure your customized instrument set up for your crop science research project.

„Here at the DMSZ (research group VirusInteract) it is our special emphasis to analyze the very early events of virus infection in plant tissue. Thus we first identify the initial point of plant virus infection, isolate this area with the MMI CellCut system and subsequently analyze this sample with a multi-omics approach. The MMI CellCut system is elementary for our research because it enables us to select and investigate even single infected plant nuclei. In addition we use the MMI CellEctor to collect protoplasts from liquid media to generate new plants from a single cell.”

Dr. Khalid Amari Baba Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlungvon Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Nachwuchsgruppe VirusInteract (Dr. Björn Krenz)
Braunschweig, Germany

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