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Crop Tech Corner

By Emily UnglesbeeDTN Staff Reporter ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- This bi-monthly column condenses the latest news in the field of crop technology, research and products. SCN BREAKTHROUGH? Kansas State University researchers have received a patent for an RNAi, or gene silencing, trait that could make soybean roots a fatal final meal for the soybean cyst nematode. When the nematodes feed on the genetically modified (GM) soybeans, key genes inside the pest related to reproduction and fitness are shut down, which either kills or sterilizes it. Laboratory tests have shown that these types of GM soybeans can reduce SCN reproduction by as much as 85%. Getting this technique into elite soybean germplasm with consistent results is the next sizeable hurdle for the scientists. "The next question for us is, with our technology, can we enhance the germplasm that is already available for soybean breeding," KSU plant geneticist Harold Trick said in a university press release. "We also have several other genes we've looked at. Is it possible to combine all of these traits into one soybean variety and have an even greater reduction than 85 percent?" Any resulting GM soybean varieties would face the usual regulatory hurdles and scrutiny, which means they are still years from becoming available to farmers, he added. Such varieties would be a sorely needed win for soybean growers, who face SCN populations that are increasingly able to survive and reproduce on the most common form of SCN resistance on the market, a trait called PI 88788. Because nematodes live underground and their damage isn't easily visible, no one is sure just how much damage is done by SCN, which is known to inhabit soybean fields in at least 29 states. USDA has estimated that it could cost soybean growers $500 million a year in lost yields, which can be reduced by as much as 75% in severe infestations. See the KSU press release here:…. GM WHEAT TRIALS, TAKE 2 British researchers are once again applying for a permit to conduct GM wheat trials on Rothamsted Farm, an agricultural research farm north of London. The farm is part of Rothamsted Research, an agricultural research station that had a previously attempted a GM-trial aphid-repellant wheat plants -- in 2013. This time, the scientists hope to experiment with a variety of wheat genetically engineered to carry out photosynthesis more efficiently. Greenhouse experiments with the GM wheat plants proved promising, and now the scientists want to move the tests into field trials, which requires requesting a permit from the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Funding for the project will come from the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Read more about the proposed GM wheat trial here:… and here:…. SORGHUM CONNECTIONS Guess what Chromatin is getting for Christmas? Genes! The sorghum seed company has recently signed an exclusive license agreement for access to sorghum germplasm developed by Agrigenetics Inc., owned by Dow AgroSciences. The license will open up international sorghum markets to the Texas-based company. According to a company press release, Chromatin will sell new sorghum hybrids in South America, Africa and Asia. The license agreement is Chromatin's second expansion effort of the year; in June, the company acquired Kirkland Seed, a forage sorghum seed provider based in Texas. See the press release on the Dow license agreement here:…. Also in Texas, Advanta Seeds is opening a biotech research station at Texas A&M, where researchers will work on sorghum breeding and genetics, as well as corn, canola, sunflower, wheat, rice and some horticultural crops. Texas A&M scientists and students will participate in the research done there, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Director Craig Nessler noted in the press release from Advanta Seeds on the opening. Ben Adams, Advanta Seeds' business director for North America, said farmers will benefit from the new research station. "We expect new technologies and traits to improve tolerances to drought, pests, insecticides and herbicides as well as increase yields," he said in the press release. See the press release here:… . Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee(PS/SK)© Copyright 2016 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

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