This twice-monthly column condenses the latest news in the field of crop technology, research and products.
BASF has announced a new herbicide-tolerant rice package called Provisia to help growers control a range of grassy weeds.
According to a company press release, the system combines herbicide-tolerant rice seeds with Provisia, a post-emergence herbicide that is an ACCase-inhibitor (a group 1 herbicide site of action). The system is designed to help rice growers who are struggling with the spread of ALS-resistant grassy weeds, and the company recommends that it be rotated with their Clearfield rice system. BASF hopes the new Provisia system will be registered in the U.S. as early as 2016.
Research on Provisia began in 2008 and in 2012, BASF paired up with partners like the Louisiana State University to breed and develop Provisia-tolerant seeds. In May, the company also signed an agreement with RiceTec, a hybrid-rice breeding company, to breed seeds for the new system.
APHID SALIVA SABOTAGE
Imagine your own drool betraying you. Researchers at the University of California-Riverside have discovered this exact situation happening to aphids, the widespread plant-sucking pest.
According to the university publication, UCR Today, aphid saliva contains unique bacteria that only exist inside an aphid. When aphids feed on plant tissue, a protein in the bacteria alerts the plant to the pests’ presence. In turn, the plant unleashes an immune response that limits aphid reproduction. UCR researchers had to collect saliva from 100,000 aphids before they could identify the protein, called GroEl, and their efforts could help producers fight the pest in the future.
“Since most aphids … likely have GroEL in their saliva, this bacterial protein may generally alert plants of the presence of aphids,” UCR nematology professor Isgouhi Kaloshian told UCR Today. “How it is recognized by plants is still unknown. GroEL can now be exploited to engineer durable resistance of crops against aphids.”
NEW TOOL TO SPEED UP PLANT BREEDING
A new tool promises to speed up the long, painstaking process of improving plants by searching for the right genes to breed for.
According to a University of Florida news release, a diverse group of researchers have assembled a large database called PlantSEED. The database is open access, so plant scientists around the world can plug in data every time they sequence the genomes of various plants and identify and label what certain genes do. In turn, the database can generate and update models of plant genomes for all the plants stored there. In the future, instead of trying to sort through the 20,000 to 30,000 genes any given plant can hold, scientists may be able to create and search models in the PlantSEED database to see what scientists before them have found and labeled.
“It’s really the future,” University of Florida horticultural scientist Andrew Hanson said in the news release. “It’ll be a new tool in the hands of the next generation of plant breeders, just as similar tools for bacteria are now widely used in microbial metabolic engineering,” he said.
SYNGENTA BUYS EUROPEAN BREEDING BUSINESS
Syngenta is set to buy the German and Polish winter wheat and winter oilseed rape program of Swedish ag company Lantmannen, in July 2014.
According to a company press release, the purchase will give Syngenta access to new germplasm, research pipelines and commercial varieties, and Lantmannen will distribute Syngenta’s cereal and oilseed rape in Sweden. Syngenta did not disclose any financial details, and the deal is awaiting approval from German regulatory bodies.