The invention, "Compositions and Methods for Controlling Plant Parasitic Nematodes," was developed by four K-State researchers: Harold Trick, professor of plant pathology; Timothy Todd, an instructor of plant pathology; Michael Herman, associate professor of biology; and Judith Roe, former assistant professor of biology.
The researchers focused their work on the soybean cyst nematode, a destructive parasite that attacks the roots of soybean plants. Farmers across the country lose nearly $860 million every year because of the nematode. Kansas isn't exempt from the parasite: Todd said that every eastern and south central Kansas county that produces soybeans has soybean cyst nematodes.
"Trying to solve the problems with soybean cyst nematodes would be huge and very beneficial to U.S. farmers," Trick said. "Getting a handle on it is important."
Through genetic engineering, the team engineered soybean plants with specific traits, so that when nematodes feed on the roots they ingest these traits that turn off specific nematode genes.
"What we did was target genes that we thought would be vital for the nematode to survive," Trick said. "If we could turn these nematode genes off, we essentially can kill the nematode and provide the plant with protection."
For the patent, the research targeted three genes: MSP, or Major Sperm Protein, which causes nematode sperm to move; Chitin synthase, the gene that helps form the eggshell on nematode offspring; and RNA Polymerase II, which is vital for RNA production.
By controlling these three genes, researchers were able to halt the reproduction of the nematodes and saw a 68 to 70 percent reduction in the presence of soybean cyst nematode. The team was also careful to prevent any negative off-target effects, or ways that the altered genes could negatively affect the soybeans or animals and humans who ingest the soybeans.
While the patent is very valuable for soybean production, it has also opened the way for further beneficial research. Since the work on the patent, Trick and Todd have continued similar research on 20 different kinds of gene sequences in other plant and nematode species. They are taking the same method of destroying the soybean cyst nematode and applying it to nematodes that affect plants such as wheat, tomatoes and pineapples.
Trick and Todd have been supported in their research by funding from the Kansas Soybean Commission and the United Soybean Board. They are in the process of filing for additional patents for some of their inventions.
"With this technology -- it may not be the genes under the patent, and it may be other genes that we find or someone else finds -- we're hoping to produce plants with durable resistance to parasitic nematodes," Trick said.
The patent is the eighth patent that K-State has received this year. It was issued earlier this year to the Kansas State University Research Foundation, or KSURF. The foundation is a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing the technology transfer activities of the university.
The research foundation is working with the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization, known as NISTAC, to license the patent, said Marcia Molina, foundation vice president. NISTAC is involved with the expansion of technology-based, high growth enterprises and helps with the commercialization of intellectual property from K-State researchers.
Harold Trick, 785-532-1426, email@example.com
Harold Trick | Newswise Science News
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy