Soy Genome Boosts Beans’ Prospects
Soybeans have been used in human foods and livestock feed for centuries and are a key component in numberous industrial products—among them plastics and soy biodiesel, an environmentally friendly fuel. Now, thanks to a scientific breakthrough, this already legendary legume may become even more useful.
A team of scientists, including researchers from MU, recently completed a study identifying 1.1 million base pairs of DNA in the soybean genome, including more than 90 distinct traits that affect plant development, productive characteristics, disease resistance, seed quality and nutrition, which could lead to extensive crop improvements.
“The genome sequence will be a new tool for plant breeders, industrial engineers, geneticists, biochemists, technologists, nutritionists and anyone else who uses soybeans worldwide,” said Henry Nguyen, director of the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology at MU. “With knowledge of which genes control which soybean traits, scientists may be able to better adapt the plant to drought conditions, bringing a new cash crop and food product to poor areas of the Earth.”
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, MU scientists, in collaboration with researchers at other institutions, mapped the soybean genome to make crop improvements and provide a key reference for more than 20,000 different species of plants. Nguyen already has begun collaborating with animal science and nutrition experts to modify soybeans added to animal feeds in ways that could increase the health value of meat.
In addition to mapping the soybean genome, MU scientists have created a database of soybean transcription factors, which regulate the expression of genes and can turn genes on or off. The database, SoybeanDB, can be accessed through a web server.
The genome research was published in the January issue of the British journal Nature.
OTMIR Works to Fuel Missouri’s Economic Engine
At MU’s Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations (OTMIR) we work to create value for tomorrow by helping faculty to identify, assess, protect and market commercially viable intellectual property developed at the University. We evaluate new technologies, obtains patent protection where needed, identifies licensees and negotiates all intellectual property agreements.
Our goal at OTMIR is to identify commercializable technologies resulting from research performed at MU. Faculty and staff inventors make significant contributions to the University’s core missions. OTMIR is dedicated to protecting intellectual property rights and transforming research into commercializable products and processes.
Toward that end we encourage close communication between our office and inventors. These relationships result in more effective and efficient patenting, marketing and licensing of a technology. Faculty start-up companies, for example, can license University owned technologies.
Our office legally protects intellectual property, while seeking income for both the University and inventor. We also work to enhance industrial relations and support regional economic development—both activities which provide very real benefits to the public.
The University of Missouri will achieve national prominence in technology management and industry relations by providing an environment that fosters intellectual discovery, creative problem solving and the dissemination and application of knowledge. We must also work to conduct programs that contribute significantly to the economic development of Missouri and the nation.
At OTMIR, this mean offering support services to research clientele and industry partners and actively seek to establish national and international partnerships in research and commercialization.
How can we help? Our office receives invention disclosure forms and evaluates discoveries and inventions for their novelty, utility and commercial relevance. We manage the intellectual property, as well as working to satisfy the reporting and compliance obligations of federal, state and industrial sponsored research contracts. We can also assist faculty members who are seeking intellectual property protection and we can identify potential licensees and negotiate a variety of intellectual property-related agreements for commercially viable technologies.
To learn more please visit our website.
Study: MU Experiment Station Beats the Street
A 2009 study by economists at the University of Nebraska found that the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, part of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, delivered a 37 percent rate of return on funds invested over a 42-year period, the highest of any agricultural experiment station in the continental U.S. “This means that for every dollar invested in Missouri’s Agricultural Experiment Station, investors got $1.37 back,” says Lilyan Fulginiti, researcher and professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “This beats the 9 percent and 12 percent average returns of the S&P 500 and NASDAQ composite indexes during the same period. It would have been better to invest in agricultural research and development in Missouri than putting that money in the stock market. This means that new technologies developed in Missouri are very, very good for Missouri producers as they allow reductions in cost or increases in productivity in the state—much more so than in other states.”