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. 


Carl Bernacchi
Amanda P. De Souza
David Drag
Peng Fu headshot
TJ Higgins
Steve Long
Mike Root
Matthew Siebers
Cowpea seeds

As Nigeria makes final move to commercialise Bt cowpea

After nine years of intensive trials of the Bacillus thuringiences (Bt) cowpea, Nigeria finally begins the final processes towards commercialisation.

By: Leadership, a Nigerian newspaper

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.

By: Paul McDivitt | Genetic Literacy Project

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.

By: Andrew Masterson | Sydney Morning Herald

Picture of team

Scientists stack algorithms to improve predictions of yield-boosting crop traits

RIPE researchers have stacked together six algorithms to more accurately predict high-yielding crop traits. 

Scientist measuring a plant using spectral analysis.

Study reports breakthrough to measure plant improvements to help farmers boost production

A new method can quickly capture improvements to plants' natural capacity to harvest energy from the sun.

TJ Higgins working with cowpea breeders in Africa

Cowpea protected from a devastating pest, free for smallholder African farmers

Across Africa, armies of hungry caterpillars destroy the flowers and pods of cowpeas; casualties can reach 80 percent of this staple food crop if no measures are taken. But the real victims are smallholder African farmers who feed their families on farms smaller than five acres. Next year, they will have the option to grow cowpeas that are resistant to one of these pests.