Crop Tech

November 7, 2015 02:45 AM
Crop Tech

By Sonja Begemann and Chris Bennett

New Bacterial Leaf Disease Discovered in Illinois

Bacterial Stripe can be identified by unique lesions found on the leaves that range from 2" to 5" in length.

A wet, humid summer in Illinois led to a new bacterial leaf disease in Champaign County. Bacterial Stripe is most commonly found on corn, Johnsongrass, grain sorghum, rye and clover. This disease is similar to Goss’s Wilt and Stewart’s Wilt, which might make it difficult to identify. Look for lime green to yellow lesions in early stages and brown necrotic streaking in the center of the 2" to 5" legion as it matures. If disease identification is a challenge, send it to an Extension testing lab for accurate diagnosis.

While this is a new bacterial disease to Illinois, it’s not new to the U.S. In the 1970s, Bacterial Stripe was discovered in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan. Based on history and research in these states, there’s no economic or yield impact from this disease. Goss’s and Stewart’s Wilt can cause economic damage, though, so it’s important to learn the difference among the diseases.

Nitrogen From Waste

A patent has been filed on a process recovering nitrogen-rich fertilizer from livestock waste. The Bion 
Environmental Technologies process generates a high concentration of water-soluble nitrogen that is pelletized and cost-effective to transport. 

The fertilizer contains no chemical additives; 12% to 15% nitrogen; no salt, iron or mineral constituents from the livestock waste; and can be precision-applied. “Besides the economic implications for Bion, the livestock producer and the agriculture industry, this is especially important in the watersheds in the U.S. where land-application of livestock waste contributes to excess nutrient runoff and harmful algal blooms,” says Craig Scott, Bion communications director.

For more information, visit

DNA Transfer Tool Could Lead to Better Crops, Fewer Pests

When plants or pests develop traits we want—or don’t want—wouldn’t it be ideal to isolate that trait to duplicate or replace it? The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) can make exact exchanges to the DNA of most organisms.

Research conducted at the University of California, San Diego shows this new genome-editing mechanism might allow scientists to control pesticide-resistant pests. By introducing a genetic mutation into a few pests in a population, scientists have found a way to help it quickly spread throughout the entire population. 

“CRISPR alleles spread and become fixed in a population on the order of tens of generations,” explains Rob Unckless, postdoctoral research fellow in the departments of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University. Left to natural selection, beneficial genes could take hundreds of generations to develop. 

Additional benefits of CRISPR technology allow scientists to focus on individual genes to enhance accuracy and control outcomes. Traditional breeding leaves room for error or can impact multiple, even unknown, genes in the process. CRISPR should allow for faster and safer discoveries.

Continued research will show how selecting specific genes in pesticide-resistant insects will possibly make the insect susceptible to pesticides or through unknown control methods. “There is so much we don’t know, but it’s also promising,” Unckless says.

CRISPR technology can also be used in crop genetics. DuPont and Caribou Biosciences, a leading developer in CRISPR, recently announced they’re forming a strategic alliance. By working together, DuPont will have exclusive access to CRISPR-Cas (CRISPR associated proteins) technology to use in major row crops and Caribou will have access to DuPont patent portfolios.

The alliance also includes multi-year research collaboration with scientists from the two groups to focus on enhancing the breadth, efficiency and versatility of the CRISPR-Cas toolkit. Through careful beneficial gene selection, this research can provide plants with drought tolerance and disease resistance to promote plant health. 


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