Advancing Translation

It is vitally important that for us to develop a uniform means to quantitatively benchmark all of our photosynthetic improvements. We have built a central facility that transforms each construct into a single genotype of a model crop, tobacco. Tobacco was chosen as the initial test crop solely because it is relatively easy to work with in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field—and results can be seen quicker. It also shares common traits with many important food crops so the lessons learned should be transferable. 

Transformations are confirmed, from gene expression to production of the targeted proteins, and then phenotyped in the greenhouse and tested in replicated field trials. Once a trait is proven to be successful, we begin the more difficult and time-consuming task of transforming staple food crops, including soybeans, cassava, cowpea, and rice. 


Amanda P. De Souza
TJ Higgins
Steve Long
A project begun nearly 15 years ago is finally coming to fruition, as Nigeria is poised to become the first country to release a genetically modified variety of insect-resistant cowpeas to farmers.  “The cowpea growers have been very supportive. They like the GM crop. They have seen it perform and they are ready to grow it," Issoufou Kollo Abdourhamane, the project's manager at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), told me.  Cowpeas, known as black-eyed peas in the United States, are a key

Plagued by pest, African farmers may soon have access to insect-resistant GMO cowpeas—for free

Nigeria is poised to become the first country to release a genetically modified variety of insect-resistant cowpeas to farmers.

Dr Lee Hickey

Future fare tipped to be GM, GE, ‘organic’ or none as shortages compound

One of the longest running, loudest and bitterest debates about food in modern times centres on the relative virtues of genetically modified and organic crops.