Scientists on the project have 8 agreements with universities/institutes to genetically engineer cotton and peanut and/or enhance resistance in corn by marker-assisted breeding to reduce aflatoxin contamination. These include University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana State University, Purdue University, Auburn University, University of Georgia, North Carolina State University (two agreements), and FAS/IITA. A new agreement with the Institute for Technology Development (ITD) is being implemented to develop non-destructive, rapid detection methodology for aflatoxin and A. flavus in corn kernels. Most of the cooperative agreements are supported by substantial additional (over and above the project's base funding) appropriated funds which are utilized to fund research of university cooperators associated with the project; these cooperators provide technologies (examples: production of reporter gene-containing strains of A. flavus, peanut transformation technology, isolation of unique antifungal genes, etc.) which would otherwise be unavailable to ARS for carrying out aspects of the project. This additional funding is highly supported by a large number of industries (see below) with great interest in the technology, which documents the potential large benefits which could be derived from the use of aflatoxin control products developed by project scientists and cooperators.
The following patents have resulted from antifungal gene discovery research:
1.) Small peptides with antipathogenic activity, treated plants and methods for treating same. Moyne, A.-L.,
2.) Transformation of Plants with a Chloroperoxidase Gene to Enhance Disease Resistance. Jacks, T., Cary, J., Rajasekaran, K,
Project scientists participate in the annual Aflatoxin Elimination Workshop, which is a high impact, customer oriented meeting (in addition to the usual scientific society meetings), in order to transfer available knowledge and technology to industry, farmers, and other scientists in the area of aflatoxin prevention research and technology. The scientists present their annual research progress at these workshops and interact (obtain customer input) with members of several industry commodity groups.
Examples of past years' industry attendees include;
Corn Refiners Association
National Peanut Foundation
Corn Millers Association
Anderson Clayton Co
National Cottonseed Products Association
National Cotton Council, Golden Peanut Co.
National Peanut Growers
Georgia Peanut Commission
Dried Fruit Association
Proctor and Gamble Corporation
National Corn Growers Association
Almond Board of California
Paramount Farms of California
Walnut Marketing Board
Practical technologies to prevent aflatoxin on cottonseed using a genetic engineering approach to enhance host crop resistance may become available soon. However, end users will probably not be able to implement the technology until at least 2008 because of the logistics of field testing and regulatory requirements of releasing genetically engineered plant varieties into the environment. Providing practical technology to enhance resistance to aflatoxin in corn through development of methods in protein/gene based marker-assisted plant breeding will probably take approximately 2 to 3 more years. Implementation of resistant corn hybrids on a commercial scale may take 5-7 more years, because of the difficulty of incorporation of multiple resistance traits into corn together with desirable agronomic traits.