WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA, US — Researchers from Purdue University’s College of Agriculture and College of Engineering have received nearly $100,000 from the Trask Innovation Fund to develop their work with soybeans and wheat for commercial use. 

The fund is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. It awards up to $50,000 for short-term projects that enhance the commercial value of intellectual property. 

Grant recipients are:

  • Jian Jin, College of Agriculture and College of Engineering, “PhenoBee: A Drone-Based Robot System for Single Leaf Scan with LeafSpec in the Soybean Field,” $25,000.
  • Mohsen Mohammadi, College of Agriculture, “Efficient Genotype-Independent In-Planta Transformation of Wheat,” $47,773.
  • Gyeong Mee Yoon, College of Agriculture, “Constitutive Nuclear Targeting of CTR1 (CNTC) as a Genetic Tool to Confer a Drought Tolerant Trait to Soybeans,” $25,000.

Jin said researchers in his laboratory have been developing new sensing technology for next-generation plant phenotyping, which shows how genetics and the environment impact a plant’s characteristics and a crop’s yield performance. The funding will enable testing of PhenoBee, a new phenotyping drone robot, in the field and collect data to validate its accuracy.

Mohammadi said his team’s innovation enables fast-track genome editing and trait development to create wheat varieties that address challenges like salinity, drought, heat stress, diseases and pests.

Yoon said their CNTC technology enhances plant stress responses by modulating the hormone ethylene. She said the funding will be used to develop drought-tolerant soybean plants and could potentially be applied to other staple crops such as maize and rice.