SBIR Phase II: New dwarfing genes to improve yield and abiotic stress tolerance in wheat

Period of Performance: 09/15/2016 - 08/31/2018

$747K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Geneshifters, LLC
640 SW Sundance ct
Pullman, WA 99163
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will be to improve wheat yield globally by deploying newly developed, region-specific dwarfing genes. World population is predicted to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. Wheat demand is expected to increase also due to a shift from rice to wheat consumption due to an expected increase in wealth around the globe. The increased wheat demand will have to be met under less land area and changing climate. Water use efficiency and increase in wheat yields will be important factors in meeting this demand. The proposed technology is poised to increase wheat yield under abiotic stress conditions. All of these benefits are expected to have a major positive impact on humanity. The wheat seed business is currently valued at up to $8.3 billion. The proposed technology will provide a competitive advantage to capture a significant market share of the wheat seed industry while contributing positively towards food security during the changing climate. This SBIR phase II project proposes to further develop and test alternative dwarfing genes to improve wheat yield and abiotic stress tolerance around the globe. Responsible for the "green-revolution," dwarfing genes are required to obtain higher yields, but the two dwarfing genes present in more than 90% of the currently grown wheat varieties have serious ill-effects including abiotic stress sensitivity, reduced root length and biomass, seedling emergence, and vigor. During the Phase I research, four new dwarfing genes were identified and shown to be significantly better than the currently used genes. Phase II will focus on the comparison of the new genes with the old genes to show their true benefits. This research also will generate valuable data required for the development of "release-ready" varieties. Genetic background effects will be studied by transferring one of the new dwarfing genes into two different backgrounds followed by field and controlled condition evaluation. Future competitive advantage will be maintained by pyramiding the new dwarfing genes with complementary gene action. Closely linked DNA markers will be developed for an efficient transfer of the technology into diverse backgrounds.