C. R. Haná has a new European patent

At the end of June, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted a patent for a substance Substituted 6-(alkylbenzylamino)purine derivatives developed by Palacký University in Olomouc in cooperation with Freie Universität in Berlin. This patent represents a great achievement in the field of patent protection because it broadens the territorial range of the patent granted in 2009, which was valid only for the Czech Republic. This type of protection is fully suitable for use by a potential commercial partner whom we are currently searching for.

 Plant hormones – cytokinins

Cytokinins are plant hormones which are crucial for many processes connected to growth regulation and plant development. They work as signal hormones and only a small amount is required in order to influence the essential aspects of plant growth. A large group of cytokinins consists of small organic molecules derived from purine some of which naturally appear in plants, as opposed to others which have been prepared chemically.

Current studies of transgenic plants with modified perception of cytokinins have shown interesting results of this cytokinin perception distortion. Research of such plants shows that the reduced ability to perceive cytokinins leads to modification of growth of the aerial parts of plants, delay of leaf senescence, increased size of the seeds, shortening of the germination period, and increasing of the root system.

Targeted inhibitors of perception, biosynthesis or degradation of cytokinins applied in certain periods of growth could therefore find use in agriculture. Moreover, it is obvious from previous experience that inhibition substances would find better use in agriculture. However, substances which influence the cytokinin perception directly have not been discovered until recently, and therefore could not have been tested. The first real antagonist of cytokinin receptors able to efficiently block the cytokinin perception was published and its effect patented in 2009 by Palacký University and its long-time partner Freie Universität in Berlin. At the Palacký University, the invention of this substance was achieved by the research group of the Growth Regulators Laboratory led by prof. Strnad.

 Testing of the patented substance

Currently there are several stimulators that may be used by seed dressing of agricultural plants. However, this mechanism is very different from the technology of cytokinin antagonists which is not being used in any commercial substance for agricultural use. The antagonists are unique substances not only due to its composition but also due to its effect mechanism. The substances of this group have been tested in small plot field trials with influence on seed dressing of great statistical importance by wheat (1-2%), maize (16=%), poppyseed (seed 109%, poppy 111,2% as a control). All the field trials have been executed at worksites with a standardized testing system in compliance with the GEP standards.

 Effects of the patented substance

The aim of the application is to support plant growth using the diminished perception of endogenic cytokinins in the initial phase of germination, seedling emergence, and growth. The great advantage of the patented substance is the extremely low doses, the ability of cytokinin antagonists to be combined with any commercially used substance used for seed dressing, no danger of phytotoxicity in target plants, zero ecological danger for both the environment, and for humans. Moreover, it stimulates the growth of root system, increases yields, and resistance of plants against drought, which has been a pressing issue in agriculture for the past 10-15 years.

Apart from the stimulative and anti-stress effect, this technology also positively affects plant morphology, e.g. increased production of cereal root suckers, increases root system development of the winter crops etc. Other technologies have not shown such complexity of effects.

Antagonisté evropský patent-2 obr. The influence of the patented substance on the root system growth, a model plant Arabidopsis

 Searching for commercial use

Considering the potential to be commercially used this technology has been selected as one of the pilot projects of the first call of Proof-of-Concept by Palacký University. The technology is currently being verified in cooperation with the Science and Technology park which is also assisting with the search for a commercial partner who could eventually use the technology in its plant treatment. The technology developed at C. R. Haná will then help to find solutions for pressing issues of humankind and contribute to better life of all of us.