Elizabeth Grabau, associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, and former graduate student Carla Hegeman received a patent for "Soybean Phytase and Nucleic Acid Encoding the Same" (No. 6,303,766). The problem is that non-ruminant animals such as poultry and swine are unable to efficiently absorb phytate phosphorus in soybean meal. To satisfy dietary requirements, inorganic phosphate is added to diets, increasing feed costs. Undigested phytate is excreted in manure, which is applied as fertilizer to pastures and croplands, resulting in an increase in soil phosphorus and sometimes entering waterways, causing growth of algae and other aquatic vegetation far beyond normal limits. To solve the problem, Grabau will introduce phytase genes directly into soybean for expression in the seed. Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytate, liberating organic phosphorus. In the seed, available phosphorus will be absorbed by animals and feed additives will be unnecessary, reducing the amount of phosphorus excreted. The invention is also directed to nucleic acid expression constructs, vectors, and host cells comprising the isolated soybean phytase nucleic acids, as well as methods for producing recombinant and non-recombinant purified soybean phytase. The invention also relates to transgenic plants expressing the soybean phytase, particularly expression under seed-specific expression control elements.
A "Seaweed Supplement Diet for Enhancing Immune Response in Mammals and Poultry" earned a patent (No. 6,312,709) for Vivien Gore Allen, professor of plant and soil science a
Contact: Mike Martin