WHEAT YIELD (EARLY STAGE INVESTMENT IN A UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY)
TechAccel has invested in a novel technology discovered by Professor Harold Trick at Kansas State University that minimizes the stress-induced wheat yield losses resulting from elevated temperatures during grain-fill. Due to climate change, this is increasingly a problem worldwide. TechAccel has licensed this technology from K-State and is partnering to advance the technology to a commercial-ready state.
Dr. Trick demonstrated a transgenic wheat approach: adding a gene for a temperature-tolerant version of a particular enzyme from a different plant species relieved much of wheat's high-temperature-induced yield loss. TechAccel then worked with Dr. Trick to develop a gene-editing strategy to convert the endogenous temperature-sensitive wheat enzyme to a heat-tolerant version.
Work performed at K-State identified natural wheat variants of the enzyme with different levels of heat stability. The second project phase in the laboratory of Professor Justin Siegel at the University of California, Davis, used this information coupled with enzyme engineering, to discover a better heat-stable version of the wheat enzyme. Gene editing converts the endogenous wheat enzymes to the improved design. After large-scale field trials, one of more global strategic companies will be the likely customer for the developed technology.