Kansas Wheat Innovation Center

(Jim Shroyer) Good morning folks. Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host and we’re in luck because we’re at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center here in Manhattan, Kansas. In just a minute, we’re going to be talking to the scientists about their research that’s being conducted here. I think you’re going to enjoy this so we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. See you then.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. Today, we have Aaron Harries, Vice President of Wheat Research and Operations for Kansas Wheat. Aaron, appreciate you taking time to talk about your building here and what’s going on here. Aaron, take it away. Tell us what you’ve got. (Aaron Harries) Well we’re happy to be with the Wheat Innovation Center for four years now believe it or not. This beautiful facility was built by Kansas wheat farmers through the Wheat Checkoff – the two pennies they pay on every bushel of wheat sold in the state of Kansas. It’s been a great success story. The Wheat Innovation Center is a research center that expands on research capabilities already here at Kansas State University in Manhattan. About eight years ago, farmers on our board said, “Well, let’s see what we can do to expand on that research capacity,” and this Innovation Center is what that’s all about. We’ve got several different wheat-related entities in the building here that have a lot of interaction, relationships and cooperations and it’s really played very well. (Jim) Tell us some of the groups that you have here and how they do interface with the K-State researchers. (Aaron) We’ve got Kansas Wheat, which is a cooperative agreement with the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, same staff representing both organizations. The Wheat Growers is the oldest organization and that represents farmers and lobbying in policy issues, Farm Bill and things like that. We’ve also got the Kansas Wheat Alliance here. They collect seed royalties on licensed wheat varieties through Kansas State University. It’s great to have them in the building, cooperate with them. They also support wheat research at Kansas State University so we coordinate with them. Then we created a couple new companies, the big one is Heartland Plant Innovations, HPI, which is a farmer-owned company that leases space in the building and does a lot of the core wheat research in here such as the double haploid wheat creation. It’s got a partner, a not-for-profit called Earth’s Harvest that pursues grants and research funding from the government and other sources. We also donate space to the Kansas Foundation for Ag in the Classroom. They do great work teaching teachers agriculture curriculum across the state and we have them in the office. Obviously, Kansas State wheat researchers are in here. The Wheat Genetics Resource Centers relocated from campus here to the Wheat Innovation Center and then we’ve got a couple of industry partners that also cooperate with us here. What we’re also proud of at the Wheat Innovation Center is we set up a research foundation for naming rights in the facility in exchange for gifts to research, cash gifts to research. Different individuals and businesses, we have their names on offices in different rooms in the Innovation Center and we raised $1.4 million in naming rights to fund research that goes on here and at Kansas State University and that’s in addition to what we raised through the Checkoff. It’s a great time of the year for people if they want to give a tax-deductible cash gift to support the research that’s going on here. We have that Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation now and then people can inquire about that if they are interested in doing some giving. (Jim) That’s good. Also, you have some excellent facilities downstairs and in the backyard so to speak with the greenhouse, isn’t it? (Aaron) This is a huge facility. It’s a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. We’ve got laboratory space and greenhouse space and we’re happy to report that we’re going to be actually building new greenhouse space here at the end of the year and the next year with another grant we got. A lot of excitement generated by the work being done. (Jim) Aaron, appreciate you taking time and we’re going to go downstairs and check out these things you have been telling us about. Folks, we have to take a break right now so stay tuned after these words from our sponsors. See you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us we have Jon Raupp our Senior Scientist in the Department of Plant Pathology but he’s housed in the Wheat Innovation Center here on campus. Jonathan, glad to have you on the show, good to see you again. Obviously, we’re in the greenhouse and we’ve got some weird looking kind of wheats around us so describe what we have here and what your responsibilities are. (Jon Raupp) Okay. At Kansas State in the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, we learned a long time ago that there’s probably not very much diversity left in the wheat crop, as we know it. So we are going to the wild wheats, the relatives of wheat that diverge several thousand years ago to find new resistance to pests and diseases in wheat. One of the main plants we’re using right here is Aegilops tauschii. This is hybridized wheat that we know as Durum wheat, about 8,000 years ago. This plant is very easy to cross with wheat and we get hybrids within a couple generations that are very fertile. We have found resistance in this plant to almost any pest that we’re interested in, all the foliar diseases, Hessian fly, green bug. (Jim) Just looking at it right here, this looks like just the old run-of-the-mill at the edge of the field-jointed goatgrass. (Jon) It is related to jointed goatgrass. However, this plant only has the D genome whereas jointed goatgrass is a tetraploid. Actually. It has two genomes in it. That plant does cross with wheat. (Jim) Rarely. (Jon) Rarely, in a farmer’s field but it’s easier to go back to just the single genome that contributed to wheat. (Jim) Okay. Let’s talk about those genomes just for a real brief second here. We’ve got AABB, which would be the Durum type. (Jon) Correct. (Jim) And then you have the DD, which will be the aegilops. (Jon) Right. We also have collections of the AA and BB genotypes also and that’s this plant right here. We have about 500 different lines of this species and also– (Jim) That’s a AA? (Jon) This is AABB. (Jim) Okay. (Jon) This is a direct progenitor of all Durum wheats. (Jim) Jon, tell us a little bit more about the collections, the seed collection. (Jon) Okay. We used to be housed in Throckmorton Hall and we have been funded by the Kansas Wheat Commission for a number of years trying to transfer genes from aegilops tauschii into wheat. When the Wheat Commission established this new building, they made very nice facilities for us and the gene bank was moved from Throckmorton to here. The gene bank now has about 15,000 lines in it, about a third of those are wild species such as we see here, the aegilops species and the wild triticum species. Another third of the lines in the gene bank are genetic stocks that we used to help manipulate to transfer some of these genes from the wild species into- (Jim) They’re basically, they are pretty ugly lines. (Jon) – common weight. (Jim) They’re pretty ugly; they never see the light of day, so to speak. (Jon) That’s correct. (Jim) They’re a carrier. (Jon) Yes. Another third of the lines are just experimental lines that we just use for genetic studies that we are interested in. There’s about 15,000 lines in there, quite a big collection and the space we have here is almost quadruple of what we had available over in Throckmorton, so we’re very fortunate to have that here. The collection is also under very strict humidity and temperature control, which we didn’t have in Throckmorton. Those things are very vital for the longevity of a collection. Because we’ve just only started tapping the genes that are in these wild species, we are going to be using these species for a long time, so maintaining the collection over a long duration is very important. (Jim) Okay. Jon, I appreciate you taking time to show as a little bit of the kind of- (Jon) My pleasure. (Jim) – the odd types here. Folks, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. See you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us in this segment we have Tyler Suelter, a Research Associate at the Heartland Plant Innovation Center. Tyler, it looks like a rainbow back here with all these different colors. What have you got? (Tyler Suelter) These are actually tags to mark the different days of work that we’re doing. We’re working on a double haploid operation, which means that we’re creating this population of plants that all have the exact same genetics across all of their chromosomes. We do this by getting a putative cross by one of our breeders that we work with. In this cross they think that they have something interesting, it’s either a yield trait or a disease resistance or some other trait that they think is going to be commercially valuable. (Jim) These are for quality. (Tyler) Right. They’re sending those plants to us and we are going to emasculate these plants. We pull out all the male parts so that we’re only left with the ovary and the egg inside of this flower. Then we actually pollinate maize pollen and that induces that ovary to start dividing. That resulting embryo only has half the number of chromosomes that it should and then we use a mitotic inhibitor later to double its chromosomes count. Now, the resulting plant has both copies of the chromosomes exactly alike. They’re all homozygous. All that resulting population will flower at the same time, grow at the same rate, be ready to harvest at the same time in the field. (Jim) Okay. Let’s go back just a little bit. You talked about you pollinate it with maize which- (Tyler) Corn, yes [chuckles]. (Jim) – the sweet corn, so that doesn’t bring any genes from the sweet corn into it? (Tyler) Correct. It only induces that ovary to start dividing. There’s actually no DNA contributed from their maize parent. (Jim) Okay. Contrast that with the way we’ve done wheat breeding in the past. It’s a long time. (Tyler) Right. Wheat breeding in the past, traditionally you would accomplish the same goals through line breeding. Doubled haploids offer a couple of advantages. You can fix traits faster and accomplish this whole process in several years quicker timeline. We’re actually selling time to our customers where we’re saving them upwards of six, maybe even eight years in some cases, of development on their crosses. (Jim) Tyler thanks for taking the time to show us what you’re doing. (Tyler) My pleasure. (Jim) Folks, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. With us, we have Asif Mohammad, the chief scientist here at the Heartland Plant Innovations Center. Asif, with your title, you run the show so to speak. You’re the head guy. Tell us what projects are going on here. (Asif Mohammad) Basically, Heartland Plant Innovations is a plant biotechnology company. We are providing different plant building services to the wheat breeders. (Jim) Around the country, in the world. (Asif) In the world as well. Basically, one of the biggest projects that we are working on is a doubled haploid project. I think that Tyler Suelter talked about it in detail. I just wanted to let you know that we are producing around 25,000 to 30,000 doubled haploid plants in this year for different wheat breeders in the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Brazil and China as well. This is one of our bigger projects. Another project we are working during this process is the marker assisted selection. Basically, the marker assisted selection; we are looking for the gene of interest for the breeders. Breeders are asking that, “Okay. In this plant, I need this gene.” So we are doing some marker assisted selection when the haploid plants are at only two to three leaves stage. If the gene of interest is present, we are taking farther those plants; otherwise, we are discarding it. It saves a lot of money as well as space. Other than the marker assisted selection, we have some project with respect to pyramiding genes or stacking genes into a one-wheat variety and we are doing, I think, two or three different projects for different disease resistant genes to pyramid them. Other than that, what we are trying to do is producing, trying to bring some genes from the old wild relatives of wheat into the cultivated wheat that we are cultivating right now. What we are doing here is we are trying to cross wheat with the aegilops tauschii, which is a D genome donor of wheat. (Jim) A goatgrass type. (Asif) Yes, you’re right. Basically, those genes are effective against some disease resistance, particularly Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus genes and some other genes as well. We are trying to produce some octoploid wheat. Other than that, we are also trying to produce some synthetic wheat. We are trying to produce hexaploid synthetic wheat by crossing tetraploid wheat with aegilops tauschii. We have a project where we are trying to develop a doubled haploid system in sorghum. Doubled haploid system in sorghum does not exist so Heartland Plant Innovations is trying to develop a system for sorghum so that we can reduce the time schedule to develop sorghum cultivar by at least four years. (Jim) Asif, it sounds like you got your hands full. I want to thank you for taking the time and telling us the overall projects that are going on here. Thank you very much. (Asif) Thank you very much. (Jim) Asif, thanks for telling us what HPI is doing and the number of projects. We appreciate it. We got to take a break now. Folks, stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, and in this last segment, we have Chris Miller who is the Director of Wheat Quality Research here at the Heartland Plant Innovations Center. Chris, we’ve just come from the greenhouse and we saw all those good things going on out there with a quick release on those varieties. In the quality, what aspect do you play in this role? (Chris Miller) Yes. If you looked at some of the wild varieties of wheat in the greenhouse, how we can start to move some of those genetics into developed varieties and really my role here is to look at the end-user traits. I work mostly with milling and baking companies and try to interface with the breeding programs. Looking at really protein on my side, I’m a protein biochemist, and also a flour miller and so looking at what wheat varieties may end up with better baking properties or better milling qualities. We’re doing that through protein characterization of the wild relatives of wheat and also some of the current varieties that are being developed. (Jim) You have to go through and basically screen all the wild types and possibly all the old varieties from way back when to see if they have certain characteristics that we want to put in to new releases. Is that basically it? (Chris) Yes, that’s correct. Basically, we have a research project that is funded by the Kansas Wheat Commission, which is the Kansas wheat farmers. We’re looking at human health and nutrition and also product quality. The project is really looking at celiac disease on one side and trying to characterize those wild relatives, those ancient wheats for their levels of celiac-reactive proteins. Then we’re also screening varieties throughout the breeding program over history, so from the early 1900s even up to today in our current commercial varieties that are being planted in the field. We’re screening those for proteins related to celiac disease but also proteins related to baking quality. (Jim) I want you to address the fact what you see in these health food stores or wherever that spell in some of these old types or ancient types of wheat varieties are good for celiac or a gluten intolerant. I want you to go on record here and tell me what you know about those old wheat varieties. (Chris) Yes. We’ve done this and there’s other laboratories outside of Kansas State University that have done this work where we’ve screened for celiac reactive proteins, and we’ve found no evidence of a breeding effect where we’ve increased the amount of celiac reactive proteins. In fact, we find the same proteins in the ancient wild relatives of wheat that are responsible for celiac disease. They have been there since the beginning of wheat. (Jim) Well, Chris, do you think going through all these screens that you would be able to find something that will help people with celiac disease? That’s a really bad disease to have. (Chris) That’s true. Yes, we’re making progress on the projects so we’re looking for varieties that already have a naturally low level of the celiac proteins and using that as a starting point. We will continue to lower the levels of reactivity over time through our traditional breeding practices. Yes, we will be able to make some progress on celiac. (Jim) Chris, thank you for taking this time. (Chris) Yes, thank you. (Jim) I appreciate it. It was nice to see the lab here. Folks, thanks for being with us on this episode of That’s My Farm. Don’t forget next week at about the same time, we’ll have another show of That’s My Farm. See you then.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

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