PLANT SENSORY SYSTEMS, LLC
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project addresses the need for crops with increased yield. Yield is directly related to nitrogen (N) utilization and is dramatically affected by climate. Plant Sensory Systems has developed a genetic modification to plants that increases their N use efficiency (NUE) and tolerance to drought and high temperatures. The modification is the insertion of a novel pathway for making gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in plants. Phase I research demonstrated that the genetically modified model plants were more drought- and heat tolerant and had higher yield in both N-limited and N-sufficient conditions compared to wildtype plants. In Phase II the gene construct will be tested in a crop plant to demonstrate commercial feasibility. Agronomic performance in N- and water limited and sufficient conditions will be determined in homozygote corn lines.
The broader impacts of this research are the stabilization of the agronomic sector of the economy and a reduction in adverse effects of agriculture on the environment. The innovation would lead to crops with higher yields that cost less to produce. The need for less N fertilizer would reduce costs to the growers and have significant environmental savings by reducing the amount of N that runs into the watershed. Moreover, a reduction in fertilizer production and application would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The innovation confers tolerance to climate changes, which would also reduce crop-production costs and increase yield. The proposed technology has great commercial potential in a market actively seeking increased NUE and value-added traits.