Corteva Agriscience hosts student researcher at US research site; opens up cutting edge technology for public good

Initiative strengthens partnership between ICRISAT and Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont

In a mutually rewarding public-private partnership for scientific research in agriculture, Corteva Agriscience hosted a researcher from ICRISAT for a 10-week long internship program at their global business center in Johnston, Iowa, USA. Ms Sirisha Kaniganti, from India, a PhD candidate, at the ICRISAT, worked intensively with grain quality specialists at Corteva Agriscience. Ms Kaniganti’s work during the internship focussed on understanding the biochemical pathways that contribute to rancidity in crops. This is a rare instance of cutting edge technology with the private sector, being opened up for public good. The work was partly supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC).

Pearl millet contains a rancidity component and once milled, renders millet flour unusable in a very short time for most varieties. This is one of the biggest concerns for producers, processors and consumers of the functional flour markets. Developing improved varieties that do not go rancid is therefore of great significance.

“This program helped me realize that cross-border flow of knowledge in this form of research is crucial to gain an edge in agriculture. I plan on using my newly acquired skills in cutting-edge breeding methodologies to advance ongoing research at ICRISAT,” Ms Kaniganti said.

“Working with highly skilled, passionate researchers from ICRISAT is always a win-win situation. Having more people with diverse skills and background, on the intractable problems of food security crops, helps our team develop awareness and new solutions,” said
Dr Tom Greene, Senior Research Director at Corteva Agriscience.

Ms Kaniganti is a student of Dr Pooja Bhatnagar-Mathur, Theme Leader at ICRISAT, and Principal Investigator for the collaboration. “Ms Kaniganti’s research on pearl millet has been very insightful. If we reduce rancidity in millet flour, we can reduce waste and create a more valuable millet product for consumers. Increasing the shelf life of this nutri-cereal will offer opportunities for primary and secondary processing, creating enhanced profits for smallholder farmers,’’ says Dr Bhatnagar-Mathur.

Ms Kaniganti’s work also explores sorghum embryo rescue and tissue culture techniques, plant transformation, vector construction, CRISPR-Cas advanced plant breeding, and developing mutual knowledge on pearl millet quality improvements.

The initiative marks a new journey in the partnership between ICRISAT and Corteva Agriscience. The multi-year partnership since March this year is aimed at strengthening food security by improving crops that feed millions  via sharing modern breeding technologies.

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