Research roundup

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEW IN THE WORLD OF RESEARCH

Utilizing Bayfield’s genes to boost yields
Maggie Robertson
OAC Bayfield has proven to be one of Ontario’s most successful soybean cultivars. Now, University of Guelph Professor Istvan Rajcan, Department of Plant Agriculture, is looking to pinpoint the genes that have made it such a big hit with farmers.
 
If he succeeds, plant breeders will be able to incorporate OAC Bayfield’s gene regions – called “selection signatures” that are responsible for its success – into future generations of soybeans.
 
The high and stable yield in OAC Bayfield and its progeny is attributed to specific genes and chromosome regions in the soybean. With Rajcan’s findings, new soybean cultivars will be able to be developed that will have the high yield of OAC Bayfield combined with new desired traits, such as disease resistance and increased nutritional value. 
 
“This research will help develop higher yielding and better quality soybean cultivars for Ontario farmers in the future,” Rajcan says.
 
Funding for this project is provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario.

New Ontario-sourced bioproducts developed at Guelph
Erin Calhoun
A new alternative to conventional plastics and their biocomposites has been created by University of Guelph researchers featuring Ontario crops.

University of Guelph Professors Amar Mohanty, Istvan Rajcan, David Lubitz and Manju Misra, and Queen’s University Professor Amir Fam, have created several biocomposites from a number of materials including soy stalk, soy meal, functionalized soy oil, corn stover and dried distiller’s grains.

Misra expects these environmentally friendly products to be commercially available in as little as three years. They can be used in sporting and boating equipment, among other consumer goods.

“The future is golden for these research products and related areas,” says Misra. “Plans are to make environmentally friendly housing panels, some exterior auto parts and other structural products utilizing soybean and canola based resins and corn, soy and wheat fibres.”

This research is funded by Grain Farmers of Ontario, Manitoba Pulse Growers Association, the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC-CRD), OMAFRA -University of Guelph Partnership, and OMAFRA – New Directions.

Strong soy and corn stalks
Maggie Robertson
Soybean and corn residues are being explored as a new, stronger source of fibres for composite plastics in car parts; but first, the sector needs to develop varieties with strong stalks specifically suited for bioprocessing.
 
Professor Peter Pauls, from the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph, is testing soybean and corn varieties to identify those that will be more suitable for producing composite plastics. Pauls and his team have measured five points of strength in their initial composites. Measured against currently used wheat-based plastic composites, the soy-based plastics come out similar or better in each category.

“Soybean stalks have very little use,” he says. “In no-till operations, especially after corn harvest, crop residues can become unmanageable. We hope to create dual-use crops where the seed and the residue have significant value.”

Collaborators in this project are Leonardo Simon (University of Waterloo), Yarmilla Reinprecht, Muhammad Arif and Muhammad Riaz. Funding for this project is provided by BioCar and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).


Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.

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