Major research results – University of Copenhagen

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Major research results

SolskinUsing solar energy to produce proteins and enzymes

Research into molecular biology – including knowledge of DNA sequences for entire genomes – and into systems biology has created unprecedented opportunities to transfer biochemical processes from plants to other organisms, e.g. using solar energy to produce proteins and enzymes on an industrial scale. By attaching sugar molecules to specific proteins, scientists have now succeeded in changing glycosylation patterns in plants, making them more akin to the proteins found in human cells, which will make it easier in future to avoid unwanted immune recognition and organ rejection.

Kornmark

Better utilisation of plants

New techniques such as biorefining make it easier to use every part of a plant far more efficiently. As well as producing human food, animal feed and bioenergy, it will, for example, be possible to use the same raw materials to produce biochemicals and biomedicines, and to do so with the least possible waste.

Planten gåsemad, der bruges som modelplante

Disease-resistant plants

New knowledge about the natural ability of plants to defend themselves has provided researchers and commercial growers with new opportunities to develop disease-resistant plants, opportunities based on, for example, knowledge of membrane transport processes and membrane-bound biological pumps, combined with a greater understanding of the proteins that fungi transmit to plant cells.

Majsplanter ramt af tørke

Plants capable of withstanding climate change

Climate change requires new methods of developing plants and cultivation systems that are capable of withstanding drought and heat under changing precipitation and temperature conditions.

 

Planterødder

Resource-efficient plants  

Water and plant nutrients, e.g. nitrate and phosphorus, which are essential for the production of biomass from plants, are in short supply. The latest research into the development of plants' roots and adaptation to shortages of nutrients has revealed brand new opportunities for the development of resource-efficient plants and production systems.

Plant production with limited resources

Global food production competes with other interests for key resources such as water, land, nutrients and manpower – especially in the developing world. A significant increase in food production will require the continuous adaptation of production systems to make more efficient use of resources and less impact on the environment. The University of Copenhagen is involved in numerous projects studying ways of improving biological production under varying resource constraints.

Rapsplanter

Technology to remove unwanted substances from plants

New knowledge of the proteins responsible for the transport of plant defensins has made it possible to develop what is known as transport-engineering technology. This technology eliminates unwanted substances from the edible parts of crops and increases the volume of beneficial constituents that they contain, e.g. the rape plant's protein-rich oil cake can be put to far better use by increasing the volume of the important micronutrient zinc in the kernel of the grain.