A recently patented invention from a Kansas State University research team targets a devastating parasite that causes millions of dollars in crop damage each year.
The invention, "Compositions and Methods for Controlling Plant Parasitic Nematodes," was developed by K-State researchers Harold Trick, professor of plant pathology; Timothy Todd, an instructor of plant pathology; Michael Herman, associate professor of biology; and Judith Roe, former assistant professor of biology.
The researchers focused their work on the soybean cyst nematode, a destructive parasite that attacks the roots of soybean plants. Farmers across the country lose nearly $860 million every year because of the nematode.
Kansas isn't exempt from the parasite. Todd said that every eastern and south central Kansas county that produces soybeans has soybean cyst nematodes.
Through genetic engineering, the team engineered soybean plants with specific traits, so that when nematodes feed on the roots they ingest these traits that turn off specific nematode genes.
Trick and Todd have been supported in their research by funding from the Kansas Soybean Commission and the United Soybean Board. They are in the process of filing for additional patents for some of their inventions.