Patents provide additional funding source

Richard Bogren  |  7/29/2009 10:25:18 PM

Patents are becoming increasingly important to the LSU Agricultural Center and similar institutions across the country as the cost of research increases and public financial support faces competition from other segments of society.

The Ag Center has been patenting discoveries for many years. Several of the more recent patents hold promise of both improving society’s well-being and contributing funds to sustain the research mission of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station:

Gene transfer procedure. Richard Cooper, a microbiologist in the Veterinary Science Department , has patented a new, more efficient way to transfer genes from one species to another. An early application of the procedure was used to move a gene from a silk moth into a catfish, causing the catfish to be immune to Edwardsiella ictaluri, the No. 1 disease-causing bacteria in catfish. He worked with Terrence Tiersch of the Aquaculture Research Station. The gene transfer procedure has the potential to be used in both human and veterinary medicine.

Herbicide-resistant rice. Two new rice breeding lines discovered by Tim Croughan, a researcher at the Rice Research Station, are resistant to imidazolinones, a family of herbicides that can now be used to control major weed problems in rice, including difficult-to-control weeds such as red rice. Red rice, because it belongs to the same species as cultivated strains of rice, has historically been particularly difficult to control. Improved weed control will increase yields and give farmers greater flexibility in crop rotations, herbicide timing, planting practices and water management.

Vaccine for more chickens. EggMax is a vaccine that can be injected into chickens before puberty to inactivate a hormone called inhibin, which inhibits egg production. The patented product was developed by Ag Center scientists Dan Satterlee of the Department of Poultry Science and Konstantin Kousoulas of the Department of Veterinary Science in conjunction with William Fioretti, president of AgriTech Labs of Coppell, Texas. The vaccine is targeted at meat-producing chickens, called broiler breeders, which are poor layers in comparison to eggtype chickens that produce the eggs we eat. After injections of EggMax, broiler-breeder hens can lay as many as three dozen more eggs during their reproductive lives. Producers will save money in feed costs, because fewer hens will produce the same amount of chicks, and the feeding of hens accounts for about 70 percent of the cost of chick production.

Termite bait. A new bait system that holds promise of controlling the Formosan subterranean termite was developed by Gregg Henderson and Jian Chen of the Entomology Department. The system lures termites into a feeding chamber, then entices them into a second chamber that contains toxin-laced material the invaders carry back to their nest to kill the entire colony. Made from a plastic cylinder about 8 inches long and 4 inches in diameter, the apparatus is divided into two chambers with a small hole between them.

Rick Bogren

(This article was published in the summer 1999 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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