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Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences | Date: 2013-04-09

A plant type related protein, and a coding gene and an application thereof are provided. The protein is: (a) a protein consisting of the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1; (b) a SEQ ID NO: 1-derived protein having substitution, deletion, and/or addition of an amino acid residue on the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1, and related to the plant type and/or inactivation of a plant brassinolide type, or (c) a protein having more than 80% homology to the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 and related to a plant type and inactivation of a plant brassinolide type. The protein and its coding gene have very important value in improving crop production, improving the visual enjoyability of a green plant, implementing simple cultivation of a plant and improving the breeding efficiency, and has a broad prospective in genetic improvement of a plant, new variety cultivation and an application.

News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Yang Qichang walks through his “plant factory” atop the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, inspecting trays of tomato vines that may help farmers slip the stranglehold that toxins have on China’s food supply. The containers are stacked like bunk beds, with each vine wrapped in red and blue LED lights that evoke tiny Christmas trees. Yang is testing which parts of the visible-light spectrum are optimal for photosynthesis and plant growth while using minimal energy. He’s having some success. With rows 10 feet high, Yang’s indoor patches of tomatoes, lettuce, celery and bok choy yield between 40 and 100 times more produce than a typical open field of the same size. There’s another advantage for using the self-contained, vertical system: outside, choking air pollution measures about five times the level the World Health Organization considers safe. “Using vertical agriculture, we don’t need to use pesticides and we can use less chemical fertilizers—and produce safe food,” said Yang, director of the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture. Yang’s government-funded research on vertical farming reflects the changing mindset of China’s leaders, who for decades preoccupied themselves with raising incomes for 1 billion-plus people. Runaway growth created the world’s second-biggest economy, yet the catalyzing coal mines and smokestacks filled the environment with poisons and ate up valuable farmland. That stew inhibits the nation’s ability to feed itself, and is one reason why China increasingly relies on international markets to secure enough food. For example, it imported about $31.2 billion of soybeans in 2015, an increase of 43 percent since 2008, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. About a third of that came from the U.S. Given the fluctuating state of trade relations with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and the increasing global competition for resources, China is turning to technology to make its land productive again. “We will undertake rigorous investigations on soil pollution, and develop and implement category-based measures to tackle this problem,” Premier Li Keqiang told the National People’s Congress in March. The silver bullet would be to eliminate emissions and industrial waste, an unrealistic option for a developing $11 trillion economy. Yet inventors and investors believe there are enough promising technologies to help China circumvent—and restore—lost agricultural productivity. Government money backs a variety of efforts to modernize farming and improve growers’ livelihoods. The state-run Agricultural Development Bank of China pledges 3 trillion yuan ($437 billion) in loans through 2020 to finance key projects promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture. By comparison, the value of U.S. agricultural production last year is forecast to be $405.2 billion. Favorable terms will be offered to projects trying to improve efficiency, increase the harvest, modernize farming operations and develop the seed industry to ensure grain supplies, the bank said. The loan program also intends to stimulate overseas investment in agriculture by Chinese companies. The biggest example would be state-owned China National Chemical Corp.’s planned acquisition of Switzerland’s Syngenta AG for $43 billion. That will give ChemChina access to the intellectual property, including seed technology, of one of the largest agri-businesses. Yet China is reluctant to unleash genetically modified foods into its grocery stores. The government doesn’t allow planting of most GMO crops, including pest-resistant rice and herbicide-resistant soybeans, especially as an October survey in the northern breadbasket of Heilongjiang province showed that 90 percent of respondents oppose GMOs. China will carry out a nationwide poll on the technology next month. “China’s past food-safety problems have caused the public to distrust the government when it comes to new food technologies,” said Sam Geall, an associate fellow at Chatham House in London. About a fifth of China's arable land contains levels of toxins exceeding national standards, the government said in 2014. That's more than half the size of California. About 14 percent of domestic grain is laced with such heavy metals as cadmium, arsenic and lead, scientists at government-affiliated universities wrote in 2015. The danger is most evident in industrial coastal provinces, where many of the world’s iPhones and Nikes are manufactured. The government of Guangdong province, adjacent to Hong Kong, said in 2013 that 44 percent of the rice sampled locally was laced with excessive cadmium, which can damage organs and weaken bones if consumed regularly in high quantities. That’s where Yang’s “plant factories” would come in. For now, the greenhouse-like structures are mostly demonstrations as he tries to improve their energy efficiency and make their produce more affordable to consumers—and a better investment for the government. Yang’s work is supported by an $8 million government grant. “With the challenges our agriculture is facing, including China’s rapid urbanization and the increasing need for safe food, plant factories and vertical agriculture will undergo a big development in China,” he said. “There will be many ways to farm in big cities.” He isn’t alone in hunting for techniques to grow untainted food in the concrete jungle. A Beijing startup called Alesca Life Technologies is using retrofitted shipping containers to farm leafy greens. A demonstration model is parked atop metal stilts in an alley between a Japanese restaurant and a block of office buildings in Beijing. Inside, co-founder Stuart Oda, a former investment banker for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the U.S. and Japan, checks on rows of planters sprouting peas, mustard, kale and arugula under LED bulbs. Alesca Life’s smartphone app allows growers to monitor air and water conditions remotely. “Agriculture has not really innovated materially in the past 10,000 years,” Oda said. “The future of farming—to us—is urban.” The containers can sell for $45,000 to $65,000 each, depending on the specifications, Oda said. Alesca Life sold portable, cabinet-sized units to a division of the Swire Group, which manages luxury hotels in Beijing, and the royal family of Dubai. The startup hasn’t publicly disclosed its fundraising. Shunwei Capital Partners, a Beijing-based fund backed by Xiaomi Corp. founder Lei Jun, has invested in 15 rural and agriculture-related startups in China, including one that makes sensors for tracking soil and air quality. Shunwei manages more than $1.75 billion and 2 billion yuan across five funds. “For agriculture technology to be adopted on a wider scale, it needs to be efficient and cost-effective,” said Tuck Lye Koh, the founding partner. That’s one reason why Shunwei is backing agricultural drones, which more precisely spray fertilizers and the chemicals that ward off crop-destroying pests and diseases. As China’s farmland dwindled because of urbanization, the remaining growers attempted to boost yields by soaking fields with fertilizers and pesticides, degrading the soil and contaminating the crops. Farmers in China use four-and-a-half times more fertilizer per hectare (2.4 acres) of arable land than farmers in North America, according to the World Bank. “There’s overuse of fertilizers in every country, but especially China,” said Jeremy Rifkin, whose books include “The Third Industrial Revolution.” “The crops can’t even absorb the amount of fertilizers that are being dumped.” As dawn squints over cornfields on Hainan island, a pastel-blue truck rumbles down the gravel road and stops. Workers emerge with a pair of drones made by Shenzhen-based DJI and a cluster of batteries. Zhang Yourong, the farmer managing 270 mu (44 acres), arrives in a pickup loaded with pesticide bottles. The crew adds water and pours the milky concoction into 10-liter plastic canisters suspended under the drones. The stalks part like the wake of a boat as the drones fly over. Every 10 minutes, the eight-armed machines return, and the crew refills canisters and changes batteries. Zhang used to hire four or five workers to walk the fields with backpack sprayers for five days. Now, the drones cover his crops in a morning and use 30 percent less chemicals, he said. That’s what the government needs to hear as it tries to make China’s food supply safer. “This is much easier and much faster than before,” Zhang said. “This is the future. Many farmers are switching.” —Reporting by Christina Larson and Lulu Yilun Chen, assisted by Vicky Feng

The present invention relates to the field of genetic engineering and hereditary engineering. The present invention discloses a -galactosidase (-D-galactoside galactohydrolase, EC mutant with high transglycosidase activity, which is obtained by single-site-saturation mutation of amino acid sequences of -galactosidase from Aspergillus candidus and Aspergillus oryzae, with own signal peptides removed. The transglycosidase activity of the mutant is over 15% higher than that of wild types. Meanwhile, the present invention also discloses a DNA molecule which encodes the mutant, a recombinant expression vector containing the DNA molecule, and a host cell expressing the DNA molecule. In addition, the present invention also provides a method for preparing -galactosidase mutant with high transglycosidase activity by using the recombinant expression vector and applications of the mutant, the DNA molecule, the recombinant expression vector and the host cell in preparation of -galactosidase.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-05-2015 | Award Amount: 4.75M | Year: 2016

About 2/3 of the rice consumed by European citizens is produced in EU, and its productivity is affected by abiotic and biotic stresses. Of particular concern, global temperature has increased over the last century, especially during the last 50 years (0.13 C / decade). One consequence has been a clear tendency toward salinization, which affects rice as one of the most salt sensitive crop in the region. Associated with changes in temperature and salinity, the biotic stress of the Apple snail species from genus Pomacea now threatens to destroy rice paddy fields eating the sown seed and the rice plantlets, representing one of the worst introduced gastropod crop pest of the recent time. It is calculated that nowadays this pest causes damages in rice fields worldwide that result into losses of tens of billions of Euros a year. Recently, apple snails have been detected in the Ebro river delta (Spain), and now it represents an important thread to Europes wetlands biodiversity and rice production. To date, the measures adopted to combat apple snail have failed, but in the autumn of 2013, 2500 ha of infested fields were flooded with sea water. This treatment proved 100% effective in destroying apple snail infestations, nevertheless residual salt concentrations affected negatively rice productivity. Thus, the general objective of the NEURICE project is to identify and introduce genetic variation in European rice varieties for obtaining commercial varieties tolerant to salinity in order to (i) mitigate the imminent effects of salinization and deterioration of water quality in the Mediterranean basins due to climate change, and (ii) to avoid the decline in production observed after seawater treatments performed in rice paddies that successfully controlled the apple snail pest. The availability of commercial salt tolerant rice lines will prevent the climate change derived abiotic stress while avoiding the dispersion of this devastating pest (biotic stress) all over Europe.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: WASTE-7-2015 | Award Amount: 7.82M | Year: 2016

NoAW : No Agro-Waste. Innovative approaches to turn agricultural waste into ecological and economic assets. Driven by a near zero-waste society requirement, the goal of NoAW project is to generate innovative efficient approaches to convert growing agricultural waste issues into eco-efficient bio-based products opportunities with direct benefits for both environment, economy and EU consumer. To achieve this goal, the NoAW concept relies on developing holistic life cycle thinking able to support environmentally responsible R&D innovations on agro-waste conversion at different TRLs, in the light of regional and seasonal specificities, not forgetting risks emerging from circular management of agro-wastes (e.g. contaminants accumulation). By involving all agriculture chain stakeholders in a territorial perspective, the project will: (1) develop innovative eco-design and hybrid assessment tools of circular agro-waste management strategies and address related gap of knowledge and data via extensive exchange through the Knowledge exchange Stakeholders Platform, (2) develop breakthrough knowledge on agro-waste molecular complexity and heterogeneity in order to upgrade the most widespread mature conversion technology (anaerobic digestion) and to synergistically eco-design robust cascading processes to fully convert agro-waste into a set of high added value bio-energy, bio-fertilizers and bio-chemicals and building blocks, able to substitute a significant range of non-renewable equivalents, with favourable air, water and soil impacts and (3) get insights of the complexity of potentially new, cross-sectors, business clusters in order to fast track NoAW strategies toward the field and develop new business concepts and stakeholders platform for cross-chain valorisation of agro-waste on a territorial and seasonal basis.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-13-2015 | Award Amount: 6.43M | Year: 2016

MycoKey aims to generate innovative and integrated solutions that will support stakeholders in effective and sustainable mycotoxin management along food and feed chains. The project will contribute to reduce mycotoxin contamination mainly in Europe and China, where frequent and severe mycotoxin contaminations occur in crops, and where international trade of commodities and contaminated batches are increasing. MycoKey will address the major affected crops maize, wheat and barley, their associated toxigenic fungi and related mycotoxins (aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, fumonisins). The project will integrate key information and practical solutions for mycotoxin management into a smart ICT tool (MycoKey App), providing answers to stakeholders, who require rapid, customized forecasting, descriptive information on contamination risk/levels, decision support and practical economically-sound suggestions for intervention. Tools and methodologies will be strategically targeted for cost-effective application in the field and during storage, processing and transportation. Alternative and safe ways to use contaminated batches will be also delivered. The focus of Mycokey will be: i) innovating communications of mycotoxin management by applying ICT, providing input for legislation, enhancing knowledge and networks; ii) selecting and improving a range of tools for mycotoxin monitoring; iii) assessing the use of reliable solutions, sustainable compounds/green technologies in prevention, intervention and remediation. The multi-disciplinary consortium, composed by scientific, industrial and association partners (32), includes 11 Chinese institutions and will conduct the 4 years programme in a framework of international networks.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-01b-2014 | Award Amount: 10.52M | Year: 2015

SAPHIR aims to develop vaccine strategies effective against endemic pathogens responsible for high economic losses in livestock in order to strengthen the profitability of food animal systems, improve animal welfare and reduce xenobiotic usage in farming with a One Health perspective. SAPHIR will bring novel vaccine strategies to the market i) at short term, with several promising vaccines brought to demonstration (RTL6), ii) at long term, with cutting edge strategies brought at proof of concept (RTL3) and iii) in line with socio-economic requirements. SAPHIR has selected two representative pathogens of pigs (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae), chickens (Eimeria and Clostridium perfringens) and cattle (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Mycoplasma bovis) to develop generic vaccine approaches applicable to other pathogens. SAPHIR will issue i) knowledge of immune mechanisms of protection, ii) affordable, safe and multivalent vaccines with DIVA properties, iii) efficient adjuvants targeting dendritic cells, optimal formulations, new mucosal and skin delivery systems, a new generation of DNA vectors and viral replicon platforms for fostering an earlier and longer duration of immunity including the perinatal period, and iv) basal biomarkers of individual immuno-competence for future breeding strategies. The SAPHIR dissemination and training programme includes creation of an integrated health management website, launch of a Global Alliance for Veterinary Vaccines and organization of workshops directed at food animal system stakeholders. This will ensure optimal research translation of SAPHIR outputs to market and field applications. SAPHIR brings together interdisciplinary expertise from fourteen academic institutes including a Chinese partner, five SMEs and two pharmaceutical companies.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-13-2015 | Award Amount: 5.24M | Year: 2016

MyToolBox mobilises a multi-actor partnership (academia, farmers, technology SMEs, food industry and policy stakeholders) to develop novel interventions aimed at achieving a 20-90% reduction in crop losses due to fungal and mycotoxin contamination. MyToolBox will not only pursue a field-to-fork approach but will also consider safe use options of contaminated batches, such as the efficient production of biofuels. A major component of MyToolBox, which also distinguishes this proposal from previous efforts in the area mycotoxin reduction, is to provide the recommended measures to the end users along the food and feed chain in a web-based Toolbox. Cutting edge research will result in new interventions, which will be integrated together with existing measures in the Toolbox that will guide the end user as to the most effective measure(s) to be taken to reduce crop losses. We will focus on small grain cereals, maize, peanuts and dried figs, applicable to agricultural conditions in EU and China. Crop losses using existing practices will be compared with crop losses after novel pre-harvest interventions including investigation of genetic resistance to fungal infection, cultural control, the use of novel biopesticides (organic-farming compliant), competitive biocontrol treatment and development of forecasting models to predict mycotoxin contamination. Research into post-harvest measures including real-time monitoring during storage, innovative sorting of crops using vision-technology and novel milling technology will enable cereals with higher mycotoxin levels to be processed without breaching regulatory limits in finished products. Research into the effects of baking on mycotoxin levels will provide better understanding of process factors used in mycotoxin risk assessment. Involvement of leading institutions from China are aimed at establishing a sustainable cooperation in mycotoxin research between the EU and China.

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