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National Agricultural Genotyping Center Announces New Tools in Corn Disease Identification

June 5, 2017, St. Louis — Identifying corn diseases and pursuing the best management plan available just got easier, faster and more cost effective due to new testing protocols announced today by the National Agricultural Genotyping Center located in Fargo, North Dakota.

“Farming is a complicated pursuit that involves many choices. Making the right choice at the right time can have a huge effect on profitability,” said Larry Hoffman, Chairman of the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team. “This is especially true when it comes to identifying the dozens of diseases that can harm healthy corn plants, yields and grain quality.”

Corn has effective genetic resistance to many of the important diseases, according to Pete Snyder, President and CEO of NAGC, however, numerous challenges remain in identifying corn diseases in timely fashion. NAGC is targeting a couple of key diseases, Goss’s Wilt and Xanthomonas, in their first disease assays, or tests now available to corn farmers, agronomists and crop consultants.

“A key part of our mission at the  National Agricultural Genotyping Center is to translate scientific discoveries into solutions for farmers and production agriculture. This is another important step in that regard,” Snyder said. “The new assays we have developed will provide proper identification in weeks rather than months and cut costs substantially.”

NAGC, a non-profit initiative founded by the National Corn Growers Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide research and testing services to both public and private researchers. The center translates scientific discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, and bioenergy. and national security.

Cost savings from the actual testing are as much as 75 percent less with a move from single sample testing to utilizing 96 sample trays. NAGC is working with farmers via crop consultants and agronomists to streamline the process of collecting samples and ramping up the assay process.

Goss’s wilt is a bacterial disease that may cause systemic infection and wilting of corn plants, as well as severe leaf blighting. Under the right conditions this disease can cause devastating damage with grain yield losses approaching 50%. Xanthomonas, another bacterial disease, is being targeted because it is often confused with Gray Leaf Spot leading to ineffective fungicide treatments and loss of income for farmers.

“It can cost $40 an acre to treat Gray Leaf Spot, but those treatments are ineffective against Xanthomonas,” Hoffman said. “And it’s not just lost profit but lost opportunity. Once identified we can deal with Xanthomonas through management practices such as tillage and crop rotation.”

Testing is largely done through samples of the effected plant leaf tissue. However, soil samples can be assayed by NAGC early in the growing season to identify or the presence of Xanthomonas.

NAGC Announces Partnership with AG IDG

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center and Ag Innovation Development Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating the parties will work together to accelerate the commercialization of agricultural technology.  The technologies created will increase farm production, improve sustainability and increase income.

“Partnerships like this are important to the economic future of American farmers,” said Richard Vierling, Ph.D., director of research for NCGA. “We need to attract more money into agricultural startups. Vetting technology through NAGC will help identify commercially viable technologies and lower the risk for investors.”

NAGC, a joint venture between the National Corn Growers Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide research and testing services to both public and private researchers. The center will translate scientific discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.

The partnership developed as AgIDC focuses on commercializing early stage innovations. AgIDC identifies and protects novel technology, forms startup companies and takes an active role in management.

“Ag Innovation Development Group was founded to help increase the efficiency of commercializing university research in the agricultural sector to benefit farmers,” said Ag Innovation Development Group CEO Pete Nelson. “A core part of this mission is to partner with farm organizations and their commercialization efforts. The partnership with NAGC will allow us to achieve this mission and ultimately grow more startup companies in the agricultural sector.”

Background Nov. 13, 2012: The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announce the incorporation of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC). Structured as a non-profit initiative for the purpose of agricultural development, the NAGC will leverage the benefits of high-throughput genotyping with the support of two of the nation’s most prominent organizations in the fields of science and agriculture. With incorporation complete, the NAGC now seeks partners looking to become a part of this project.

“In the coming years, genotyping is expected to be a part of every aspect of agriculture from breeding to production to the table,” said DeVonna Zeug, chair of NCGA’s Research and Business Development Action Team. “NAGC will also be a driver for business development and a conduit for new technology into agriculture.”

NAGC was created to ensure high-throughput genotyping is available to everyone and utilizes Los Alamos’s Multiplexed Oligonucleotide Ligation-PCR (MOL-PCR) platform to generate highly accurate information faster and more cheaply than currently possible. MOL-PCR is able to detect desirable genetic variations in DNA sequences, the presence of specific pathogens, and other agents. Identification of these variations has important applications in crop and livestock breeding programs, the development of drugs and vaccines and the diagnosis of human, animal and plant disease.

The access to genotyping technology available at NAGC will help drive scientific discoveries and translate these discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy, and national security.   “As a national security science laboratory, we find the prospect of working with NACG exciting,” said Dr. David R. Pesiri, leader of Los Alamos’s Technology Transfer Division. “Agricultural security is a key element of national security and our partnership with NAGC complements this aspect of our mission.”

For further information on the Center, its objectives and organizing partners, click here. Those interested in becoming part of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center project may contact NCGA Director of Research and Business Development Dr. Richard Vierling directly by clicking here.

Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents more than 38,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide. NCGA and its 48 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for their members and their industry.  For more information on NCGA, click here.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and global security concerns.  For more information on LANL, click here.