SBIR Phase I: Transgenic Strategy for Nematode Control
Small Business Information
893 North Warson Road, St. Louis, MO, 63141
Name: Rodolfo Zentella
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AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project proposes to develop transgenic crop plants exhibiting increased resistance to nematode infection and damage. Present strategies for dealing with nematode infections involve chemicals that are both toxic and environmentally hazardous. A transgenic solution has the potential to provide economic benefit to producers through improved yields as well as social and environmental benefits resulting from the reduction in the use of hazardous and polluting materials. The specific goal of this Phase I research is to genetically modify plants to express the genes necessary for the biosynthesis of specific naturally occurring fatty acids and to determine whether the accumulation of the fatty acids of interest in the roots results in concomitant increase in resistance to plant-pathogenic nematodes. Positive results in this phase of research could lead directly to the application of this transgenic technology to economically relevant crops. The commercial application of this project is in the area of nematode control products for use in agriculture and horticulture. It is estimated that parasitic nematodes cost the agriculture and horticulture industries in excess of $8 billion annually in the United States and $78 billion annually worldwide. In specialty crop markets, nematode damage is highest in strawberries, bananas, and other high-value vegetables and fruits. Among high acreage row crops, nematode damage is greatest in soybeans and cotton. Many of the currently available products for nematode control are highly toxic, expensive and cumbersome to apply, and also represent significant risks to the environment. Most of the chemical nematicides will become unavailable in the near future, mainly for environmental reasons. For instance, methyl bromide is a significant contributor to ozone depletion and will be banned in the U.S. in 2005. Transgenics for nematode control in soy, corn and cotton would likely have favorable market acceptance, since a large proportion of these U.S. crops are already genetically modified for herbicide resistance and insect control.
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