Healing Japan – using PGX Plants

We were recently asked by a potential partner: “What is the current relevance of PolyGenomX technology for Japan?

By way of at least opening discussion on the topic, the following three applications suggest themselves to us:

1. Salt-tolerant rice: Given the impact of seawater inundation on coastal rice growing areas in Japan (and other countries), there is an obvious need for the development of deeply salt-tolerant rice varieties as a key component to returning these areas to agriculture, to production and to prosperity as a foundation for the restoration and healing of affected communities. PolyGenomX (PGX) has the demonstrated capacity to develop deeply salt-tolerant varieties of any plant and is now documenting a recent project based on Arundo donax (Giant Reed which, like rice, is a monocotyledon). The plants developed in that project are capable of thriving in salt concentrations half that of seawater, breaking the salt down into its component elements and leaving no waste salt in their environment.

2. Bioremediation of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster zone:  The failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant contaminated ground and ocean waters within a radius of 30-50 km with significant amounts of radioactive material including caesium-137, resulting in a ban on the sale of food grown in the area.  In the case of Chernobyl (estimated to have had 10 times the fall out of Fukushima) efforts have been applied to using Industrial Hemp as a “bio sponge” to take up the radioactive dust lying on and in the top couple of millimetres of ground in the fallout zone.  PGX believes that there may be greater value in using salt tolerant Giant Reed to desalinate the soil, simultaneously providing an immediate income from abundant biomass and/or biofuel in the process. The reed is the idea renewable energy feedstock for cellulosic digestion to ethanol, or for gasification to syngas and will concentrate radioactive waste for extraction during the energy generation processes.

3. Polygenomic Paulownia  as a valued timber stock: Paulownia tomentosa (also known as kiri, Empress Tree or Princess Tree) is a versatile, fast-growing tree particularly suited to Japan’s environment and culture, and offers a range valuable applications from furniture, carved artefacts and stringed instruments to renewable energy in the form of biomass, syngas and ethanol, and its large leaves hold sufficient protein as to provide high quality cattle fodder. PGX has developed uniquely salt-tolerant varieties of this species (though at lower tolerance levels than Giant Reed – 5g/L for Paulownia Reed vs 16g/L for reed before yield quality and quantity are affected). PGX has developed polygenomic varieties of Paulownia designed to suit various environments and applications and this tree may form a valuable diversification element for an integrated bioremediation strategy of the tsunami zone to bring those lands back into production immediately – and into normality within a relatively short timeframe.

We  would welcome the opportunity to apply our technology and know-how to these large challenges… which aren’t isolated to Japan!

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