Crop Tech Corner
Emily Unglesbee DTN Staff Reporter
Fri Oct 31, 2014 01:14 PM CDT

ST. LOUIS (DTN) -- This bi-monthly column condenses the latest news in the field of crop technology, research and products.

Purdue researchers have produced orange-colored corn sporting a handful of Vitamin-A-producing genes, which could help stave off blindness caused by malnutrition. (DTN photo by Nick Scalise)


Just in time for Halloween, Purdue researchers have found a way to produce corn in a spooky shade of bright orange. However, this is no party trick. The pumpkin-colored corn gets its color from a set of genes that produce high levels of provitamin A carotenoids in the kernels, which are converted to vitamin A in the human body. According to a Purdue news release, this new "biofortified" corn could be an important tool in combatting blindness caused by vitamin A deficiencies, a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa. There, this nutrient deficiency causes up to half a million children to go blind each year. With help from Michigan State and Cornell colleagues, the Purdue scientists have zeroed in on half a dozen genes that play a key role in the production of provitamin A carotenoids. With this list of genes in hand, breeders around the world can use traditional breeding to produce corn with improved Vitamin-A levels, and varieties are already being grown in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana. A variety of orange corn could be available for U.S. growers as early as 2016, according to Purdue agronomist Tobert Rocheford. See the Purdue news release here:…, the scientists' study here:…, and a video of Rocheford explaining the research here:….


Another Bt-soybean trait was deregulated by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Oct. 16. The trait, MON 87751, represents Monsanto's second generation of Bt-soybeans. It contains two Bt-proteins, Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2, which target certain lepidopteran pests of soybeans.

In the announcement of MON 87751's nonregulated status, APHIS said the agency "evaluated the plant pest risk of MON 87751 based upon its similarity to the previously deregulated antecedent soybean, MON 87701, which expresses the Bt protein Cry1Ac." MON 87701 was deregulated in the U.S. in August of 2014. Monsanto's two Bt-soybean traits are not being grown in the U.S., but MON 87701 is being actively grown in Brazil and Argentina, under the brand name Intacta. In an interview in February, Monsanto representatives told DTN that they are currently evaluating how Bt-soybeans would fit into the American agricultural landscape, with help from several universities.

You can see the APHIS deregulation announcement for MON 87751 here:….


A government researcher is taking a closer look at chilled and frozen oats. USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) agronomist David Livingston is creating 3-D images of oat plant tissue, which look somewhat like MRI images, but are cheaper and more easily produced, according to a USDA-ARS newsletter. So far, the images have shown that when oats freeze, ice crystals form in the roots and the upper and lower levels of the crown -- a critical part of the plant which generates new tissue in the spring if it survives. Livingston hopes that a better understanding of how oats react to freezing will allow breeders to produce more cold-hardy varieties that can be grown in a larger geographical range. You can find the USDA newsletter article and a video of Livingston's research here:….

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