April 8, 2013
In the early days when many public varieties of wheat and soybeans were still grown, many farmer-growers who also hung out their shingle and sold seed relied on the Indiana Crop Improvement Association for germination testing.
While germination testing is still one of its major functions, Indiana Crop Improvement is much more than that now, providing an entire genetics program to meet the needs of its customers.
Emily Dierking is the director of the genetics program, which focuses on service and research. Recently, ICIA hired Srilakshmi Makkena as a research associate in the genetics program. Her background is in biology, and she has a doctorate degree from Ohio State University.
Involved testing: Seed and plant testing today is much more than just rolling up seeds in a cloth and seeing how many germinate, but the goal is still to confirm the seeds in your field possess the traits you paid for.
Her research background and the projects she worked on before is so complicated it's difficult to put them into layman's terms. Suffice it to say that she is well-trained on the latest techniques at the molecular level. She also understands genetics, biology and biochemistry, Dierking says. She will put all of these to use in her new research role at ICIAS.
Part of the job is still making sure varieties meet certification requirements – it's just that the tools used to do that today are quite different than when the association was formed.
Through the genetics program, ICIA offers trait testing to make sure that varieties or hybrids have the GMO traits that they are supposed to possess. In seed companies today, making sure that offspring have these traits, or determining which do and which don't, is becoming a major time-consuming task – and companies are employing different methods to get the job done.
ICIA still offers other services as well, including identity preserved programs to ensure that a variety is what it is supposed to be, and other customized field services. Learn more at: www.indianacrop.org.
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