A robust pipeline of biotech and conventional traits at Advanta could springboard sorghum into a prominent crop worldwide.
“The pipeline of traits under development at Advanta will have a tremendous impact upon the future of sorghum as a mainstream crop in the U.S. and abroad,” says Cleve Franks, PhD, plant geneticist and breeder at Advanta US. “And the range of traits in development is quite broad, from cold tolerance to herbicide tolerance and nitrogen use efficiency to salt tolerance.”
To support the kind of research and development Dr. Franks refers to requires infrastructure and a significant cash investment. Advanta US is a business unit of Advanta India Ltd. Advanta is the world’s largest sorghum germplasm, seed research, and marketing company. Advanta US is the largest supplier of forage sorghum genetics in North America and is the leading genetics supplier of bioenergy sorghum hybrids in the US and around the world.
According to Dr. Franks, Advanta has been steadily investing in research and development of technologies across a range of crops. The company features unique, superior and proprietary germplasm and intellectual properties which provide for a robust platform for growth. Advanta also has leadership positions in a range of tropical and temperate crops, including sorghum, sunflower, soybeans, rice, corn, mustard, cotton, and vegetables.
“Research and development is at the heart of everything we do here at Advanta,” says Franks, who leads the breeding efforts in the U.S. to apply technologies and integrating germplasm. “Our commitment to research and development will generate sorghums with better energy conversion, better forage production, higher sugar contents and production improvements like herbicide tolerance.”
The traits currently in development at Advanta include:
- Cold Tolerance. A conventional trait, Advanta’s scientists have discovered the key to lowering sorghum’s tolerance to cold soils by 10 F or more. This means sorghum can be planted earlier, in 50 F soils, and the range of grain sorghum can be expanded throughout the Corn Belt.
- Herbicide Tolerance. Through conventional techniques, Advanta’s scientists can confer tolerance to ALS and ACCase Inhibitor class herbicides, which greatly enhances growers’ ability to control weeds and grasses in sorghum.
- Salt Tolerance. Through a research and commercial development agreement with Arcadia BioSciences for the development of Salt-Tolerant sorghum, Advanta receives exclusive global rights to Arcadia’s Salt-Tolerance technology. This technology will expand the range of lands available for crop production and reduce requirements for fresh water.
- Nitrogen Use Efficiency. Also in development at Advanta with Arcadia BioSciences, is Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) technology. Already a crop requiring less nitrogen for corn, the NUE technology elevates the value of sorghum.
- Drought Tolerance. It is widely known that sorghum requires less water – 30 percent to 50 percent less — than corn and other crops, but a drought tolerance trait in development at Advanta promises to set the bar even higher for competitive crops.