Kansas Wheat Innovation Center expands

by Eric Schroeder
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Kanas Wheat Innovation Center ribbon cutting
Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat; Angela Belden Martinez, EDA; Mike McClellan, KWC Chairman; Dean John Floros, KSU College of Agriculture; Betsy Wearing, Dane Hansen Foundation; Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat.
Photo courtesy of Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.
 
MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center (KWIC) on March 14 unveiled its new 12,750-square-foot greenhouse expansion, bringing total space at the complex to 22,750 square feet. As part of the expansion, KWIC added four new bays that will house wheat research for Kansas State University and Heartland Plant Innovations.

KWIC said the new greenhouses will be home to researchers from the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, Kansas State University’s Poland Lab for Wheat Genetics and Heartland Plant Innovations. The new space includes separate rooms for potting, seed processing, soil preparation and a soil room to receive and handle bulk potting.

Bikram Gill professor of plant pathology at KSU
Bikram Gill, professor of plant pathology at KSU

Bikram Gill, distinguished professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University, was on hand for the dedication ceremony. He spoke about the recent sequencing of the wheat genome, which is about five times larger than the human genome.

“Finally, after more than a dozen years of hard work, we deciphered the wheat genetic code, and we held a celebration at our annual meetings in mid-January 2018 in San Diego,” Gill said. “This seminal effort of long-term investment in wheat genetics by KSU and Kansas Wheat Commission (KWC) really began in 1979.

”In 1979, the Kansas Legislature funded my position in wheat biotechnology for feeding new genetics in support of the wheat breeding program. And in 1981, the KWC made a down payment of $10,000 to establish a Wheat Genetics Resource Center at KSU. This annual support grew over the years and was at $100,000 per year for a total investment of $2 million until 2013 when I began my phased retirement. We leveraged this investment with another investment of over $25 million from extramural funds over this time.”

The KWIC was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission through the Kansas wheat checkoff. It was completed in November 2012, and represents the state of Kansas’ single-largest, farmer investment in wheat research.

The majority of the funding for the latest expansion at the KWIC came from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, Kansas State University and the Kansas Wheat Commission, with additional support from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation.

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