FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 12, 2013
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Five Plant Science projects receive approval from OCAST Executive Committee
Five plant science projects approved for funding through independent peer review were approved Friday by the Executive Committee of the OCAST (Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology) governing board. Operating under the Plant Science Research program, the projects collectively were awarded $599,667 for up to two years of research.
The approved projects were chosen from a field of 28. Independent peer reviewers approved 27 of the applications for funding; however, the available funds could support only the first five.
Four of the awarded contracts represent basic research and one is an applied research project. Four of the projects were from principal investigators from Oklahoma State University and one came from Martin Bionics Innovations.
Oklahoma Plant Science Research is a basic and applied research program designed to:
1. Improve the competitiveness of Oklahoma’s plant researchers in securing federal grants and contracts
2. Help researchers gain the expertise and gather research data to support funding opportunities for larger research projects
3. Encourage collaborative efforts to support applied plant research projects
4. Support R&D necessary to move plant science research to commercialization
Plant science research targets those research activities occurring in higher education, nonprofit research institutions and private enterprises. The projects have potential commercial application and concern plant productivity, renewable biomass, plant-based environmental applications and chemical platforms, plant-based solutions to improve nutrition, human and/or animal health or performance, process applications and seed management and the development of new products and services that shall form the basis of new, high-technology plant science/ agriculture industry for Oklahoma.
Successful applicants include:
Energy Crop Production
• Nurhan Dunford of Oklahoma State University. Title: Evaluation of Oklahoma Native Algae Strains for Bioproduct Manufacturing. The photosynthetic production of oxygen, carbon sequestering and the ability to grow in wastewater and remove nutrients make microalgae ideal for effluent treatment applications. The purpose of this project is to screen 18 Oklahoma native algae strains for their biomass productivity, oil accumulation and waste water remediation. If successful, the result will have positive applications for the state’s biosciences industry. Award: $99,668
• Ramanjulu Sunkar of Oklahoma State University. Title: Using Thellungiella as a Model to Elucidate MicroRNA-Mediated Salinity Tolerance in Plants. This project researches the adaptability of specific plants to tolerate soil salinity, one of the principal causes of crop losses worldwide. Testing such salt tolerances among several plant species makes possible the opportunity to develop plants that can overcome salty soil. Award: $100,000
• Ming Yang of Oklahoma State University. Title: Substrates of SCFs in Arabidopsis Reproductive Tissues. It is hoped this series of research approaches will reveal a heretofore unknown pathway in plant growth and development that bears special importance to seed maturation. Award: $99,999
Agriculture and Environmental Technology
• Travis Flatt of Martin Bionics Innovations. Title: Soilless Sod with Geometrically Concentrated Root Structure. The culmination of this project will result in full development of a revolutionary design for growing soil-free sod by incorporating novel engineered growing surface technology, a proprietary growing medium and proprietary growing processes to yield extremely high volumes of sod that are healthier, cleaner, lighter, stronger and more effective than conventional sod growing practices. Award: $200,000
• Andrew Doust of Oklahoma State University. Title: Seed Oil Diversity in Paysonia, a Potential Oklahoma Oil Crop. The long-term goal of this research project is to understand how certain plants develop seed oil composition and uncover opportunities for agronomic improvement. Award: $100,000