CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 22, 2000
UI biologist finds new methods for stimulating seed growth
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa biologist David R. Soll and his colleagues
have developed methods for dramatically increasing the rate at which corn,
soybean, sunflower and other agriculture seeds take up water and nutrients,
and for loading into seeds molecules that can combat insects and fungi.
Soll says that the new technology for stimulating water uptake, a process
called "imbibition," is both faster and more efficient than conventional
methods, and the new technology of molecular loading may be particularly effective
for protecting germinating seeds that shed their coat, like soybeans.
"The new method of promoting water uptake provides several agricultural
advantages," Soll says. "First, the rapid uptake of water may provide
seeds with an early advantage in germination and early development. A rapid
increase in germ water content and osmotic pressure mobilizes the early molecular
processes involved in germination. Because many types of plant seeds, including
cereal grains, lawn grass seed and vegetable seeds, may be recalcitrant to
germination, this treatment represents a potential method for accelerating
the breaking of dormancy through water uptake."
The method of loading seeds with molecules prior to germination also provides
several benefits. Soll said that loading seeds with growth stimulants, pesticides,
fungicides, or nutrients before planting may reduce the amounts of those molecules
that currently must be added to a field.
Significantly, imbibition and molecular loading do not involve genetic modification
Soll and his colleagues also note that stimulating rapid water uptake may
have value for seed processing. In alcohol distillation and brewing, for example,
a rate-limiting factor is the uniform germination of grains and the rate of
water uptake. The new technology developed by Soll and colleagues represents
a potential method for decreasing hydration time and increasing the efficiency
of separation for such processes as ethanol fermentation.
Caviforce Technologies, Inc., located at the UI Technology Innovation Center
in Oakdale, Iowa, financed development of the new technology, which is currently
being reviewed for marketable applications. In addition, the University of
Iowa Research Foundation has filed a patent application on the new technology.
Additional information may be obtained by contacting Soll at David-Soll@uiowa.edu
or at (319) 335-1117 or Zev Sunleaf, vice president of Caviforce Technologies,
Inc. at ZevSolltec@aol.com or at (319)