Fascinating insights into BASF research
- Twelve new micro photographs of innovations available
- Prize-winning photo reportage of soybean rust can be viewed on the Internet
What you can see in this image is in fact invisible to the naked eye: a rust fungus breaking through the surface of a soybean leaf. The fungus can destroy up to 80 percent of a soybean harvest, in this way threatening a major staple food of many people around the world. This is why BASF researchers are using plant biotechnology to develop soybean plants that are capable of resisting the fungus.
Those who want to experience one of nature’s hidden processes should risk taking a closer look at the picture. At a magnification of 800 times, BASF-commissioned science photographers Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa offer a unique insight into the shapes and structures of the microcosm. The photograph of the soybean rust fungus was created using state-of-the-art technology, scanning electron microscopy. It is one of twelve new motifs from BASF’s “Images from the World of Research” series, which can now be viewed and downloaded from the Internet.
Overall, Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa documented the growth of the rust fungus in five images – from the initial contact of the fungus all the way to where the sporophores of the fungus break through the leaf surface. In November 2008 they were awarded the German prize for science photography for their photo reportage in the category micro and macro photography by the prestigious German science magazine “Bild der Wissenschaften”.
Despite the beauty of this natural phenomenon, BASF researchers intend to keep the rust fungus far away from soybean plants: they are working to develop plants that are resistant to the fungus. To do this, they transfer to soybean plants genes from other plants that are able to successfully resist rust fungus. “These modified soybean plants have a strengthened cell wall at the site of the fungal attack so the fungus can no longer penetrate the plant, or the plant saves healthy parts of its leaves through the programmed death of the afflicted cells”, explains Holger Schultheiss, a researcher with BASF Plant Science. Genetically modified soybean plants are still in the development stage. The first varieties to be resistant to the rust fungus will be available on the market in a few years.
The motifs of BASF’s “Images from the World of Research” seriesare available on the Internet at:
The prize-winning photo reportage can be viewed at: