ORNL's Piranha and Raptor Licensed to TextOre
A California based small business, Sci Proteck, Inc, has recently licensed technology developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Chicago (UChicago) to protect plants from crop diseases.
Research on this new method for inducing plant pathogen resistance began in 2005 following a grant from the National Science Foundation and research support from the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy. Principal developers include Timothy Tschaplinski at ORNL and Drs. Jean Greenberg and Ho Won Jung at the UChicago. ORNL and UChicago entered into an Inter-Institutional Agreement for licensing, patent prosecution, and royalty sharing.
Based in Visalia, CA, Sci Protek, Inc. is a global leader in innovative and reduced-risk plant health solutions from the laboratory to the field. Sci Protek, Inc. manufactures biological, fermentation and bio-pesticide products including Nematec® (nematicide) and T-Mate™ (soil dispersion agent).
"This technology uses a plant's natural protective responses to develop immunity to common pathogens," said Greenberg, professor of molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago. "The plant can respond in its own natural way. This response doesn't compromise plant growth, but makes its immune response stronger, which makes a difference between a plant overcoming or succumbing to infection."
These protective responses are activated through priming in response to the application of a mobile plant signal molecule. Priming enables plants to quickly and strongly activate defense mechanisms only when a new infection presents a threat. Thus, plants do not have to spend excess energy fighting diseases.
Sci Protek, Inc. seeks to develop these defensive traits with the goal of increasing yield and quality in crops that are susceptible to infection, like citrus and tomatoes.
"Protecting crops from blight, rot and other common problems is very important to developing safe and healthful foods," said Nigel Grech, vice president and director of research and development of Sci Protek, Inc. "With further developments in genetic engineering, we will be able to help farmers reduce pathogens and harmful diseases in their crops."
Once the mobile molecule moves through the plants, they become resistant to infection without compromising crop quality or yield. This process also has minimal effects on beneficial insects and is not harmful to the surrounding environment.
"Sci Protek seeks to promote reduced-risk plant health through continual biotechnology research and development," said Grech. "Using our newly-licensed innovation will serve as a framework for helping to protect crops from diseases and ensuring that these crops remain safe and healthy for human consumption ."