Purdue Innovates licenses novel short-stature corn technology to Ag Alumni Seed
The Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization announced Jan. 25 that it has issued a worldwide, exclusive license for a short-stature corn inbred called D16 to Romney-based Ag Alumni Seed.
The license is limited to popcorn and doesn’t apply to dent corn, field corn or sweet corn. Less than one percent of U.S.-grown corn goes to popcorn.
In the above photo, Guri Johal, professor of botany and plant pathology in Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, examines a short-stature corn inbred called D16. The Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization has issued a worldwide, exclusive license for D16 to Romney, Indiana-based Ag Alumni Seed. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell.)
Jay Hulbert, the company’s president and CEO, said development of D16 began with research that Guri Johal conducted at the company’s Romney facility a decade ago.
“D16 is not a GMO trait. Guri converted multiple elite Ag Alumni Seed proprietary popcorn inbreds to incorporate into D16,” Hulbert said. “The feature was developed using time-honored traditional breeding techniques without incorporating any foreign DNA into the corn.”
Hulbert said a shorter corn plant like D16 has advantages over traditional corn plants. “A shorter plant is less likely than a taller plant to break, fall over or ‘lodge’ under stress caused by high winds or other severe weather,” he said.
“In a food crop like popcorn, lodging increases the risk of the grain being contaminated by dirt or other foreign materials; D16 may be at lower risk of contamination than traditional corn. In addition, corn can become so tall that it’s difficult for farmers to work in the field except with specialized high-clearance equipment.”
D16 may also enhance yield reliability for farmers. “Shorter-stature corn may improve sustainability by allowing farmers to grow more plants per acre, improving yield and utilizing water and fertilizer more efficiently,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert outlined Ag Alumni Seed’s next steps with D16. “Using our Southern Hemisphere facilities, we will fast-track new hybrids with this shorter-stature feature. The new hybrids will be tested side by side with our current hybrids in U.S. trials this coming summer,” Hulbert said. “Based on the results of those trials, we’ll make decisions on conducting further trials and commercializing D16 hybrids.”
Ag Alumni Seed is a leading breeder, producer and marketer of hybrid popcorn seed. Building on the heritage of Purdue University, its research team has nurseries in three widely varied climatic areas augmented by trials on six continents.
This gives Ag Alumni Seed maximum genetic diversity, allowing the company to develop high-performing popcorn hybrids that will meet customer needs for regional adaptation, maturity, disease resistance, yield, kernel size, kernel color, popping expansion and other characteristics now and into the future.
The Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university’s academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property.
In fiscal year 2023, the office reported 150 deals finalized with 203 technologies signed, 400 disclosures received and 218 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.