SBIR Phase II: Control of Lesion Nematodes by Transgenic RNA Interference

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0848854
Agency Tracking Number: 0711892
Amount: $500,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: BT
Solicitation Number: NSF 06-598
Small Business Information
893 North Warson Road, Saint Louis, MO, 63141
DUNS: 072669828
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 James McCarter
 DPhil
 (314) 812-8024
 mccarter@divergence.com
Business Contact
 James McCarter
Title: DPhil
Phone: (314) 812-8024
Email: mccarter@divergence.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will use RNA interference (RNAi) to limit damage to corn from the plant parasite lesion nematode by silencing genes in the parasite. Phase I demonstrated in culture that expression of specific double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) from lesion genes limited nematode reproduction and increased root mass. In Phase II, validated constructs will be progressed to whole plant transformation. Transgenic plants with expression of the dsRNAs will be tested in greenhouse assays for control of lesion nematode. In parallel, the validated laboratory assays validated will be used to select next-generation constructs. Success in Phase II research will justify a field trial program. The broader impact of this research is to increase corn yields by commercializing a biotechnology trait for control of lesion nematode. Agriculture is under tremendous pressure to achieve improved yields and ensure the availability of crops. A major limitation on crop are parasites that damage root systems causing annual yield losses valued at $8 billion in the U.S. Currently available nematicides are toxic. In corn, there are no genetic sources of nematode resistance. Using RNAi, we aim to create biotechnology traits that provide season-long resistance to lesion nematode. Benefits to this approach for the grower include increased yield, increased tolerance to drought and stress, decreased input cost and preservation of soil microenvironment. Benefits for consumers include increased availability of corn and enhanced food and environmental safety.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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