Bayer, UNL partnering on wheat-breeding research

jbrehm2, December 15, 2010 | View original publication

Bayer, UNL partnering on wheat-breeding research

A licensing agreement between NUtech Ventures and Bayer CropScience AG announced today in Kearney focuses on wheat improvement. The agreement makes $2 million available for an endowed professorship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It also includes support for UNL research and education programs, and plans for the company to establish its first North American wheat breeding station near Lincoln.

"This mutually beneficial agreement will allow both Bayer CropScience and UNL to improve their respective wheat breeding programs, while preserving both parties' ability to collaborate with other companies and universities," said David Conrad, director of NUtech Ventures, the nonprofit corporation responsible for building partnerships between university researchers and the private sector. Financial details were not disclosed.

Bayer's funds create the university's first presidential chair named for the Nebraska Wheat Growers. "This is fitting honor because UNL's strong wheat research program results from a long alliance with the Nebraska Wheat Growers," said Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Harlan Vice Chancellor.

World-renowned UNL wheat breeder P. Stephen Baenziger will be the first to hold the Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair.

As part of its commitment to wheat improvement in Nebraska and globally, Bayer CropScience will establish its first North American wheat breeding station near Lincoln. The company also will support wheat research and education programs at UNL and work with Nebraska farmers in seed production activities.

"While we are excited about the current opportunities this agreement establishes for the wheat industry in Nebraska, we are even more excited about the future impact our partnership will have," Green said. Under the agreement, Bayer also will gain access to UNL's wheat germplasm, the genetic material used to develop new wheat varieties.

Bayer, a world leader in cereal crop protection, recently announced its decision to enter wheat breeding and technology development.

"We recognize the expertise that has gone into developing UNL's breeding program and the opportunities this agreement gives both partners to strengthen their activities in improving wheat," said Joachim Schneider, head of the BioScience Business Group at Bayer CropScience. "This agreement represents an important step for Bayer in achieving its goal to offer innovative integrated solutions for a sustainable cereal production to wheat growers. Agreements of this type benefit the Nebraska wheat growers because they will have a greater selection of improved varieties from both public and private wheat breeding programs."

Baenziger has been a member of the UNL faculty since 1986.

"I am deeply honored to receive this recognition and accept it with the belief that it reflects the excellent team efforts of all involved in the UNL wheat research program," he said. "My predecessors built this program and as part of a team involving university, federal, industry and grower cooperators, we have tried to enhance its state, regional, national, and global reach."

UNL will continue its efforts to develop and release wheat varieties with improved performance.

"This agreement with Bayer CropScience permits the university to continue releasing wheat varieties through the same channels as in the past," said Susan Fritz, interim dean of the Agricultural Research Division at UNL. The agreement is in accordance with principles for collaboration approved by the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates Joint Biotechnology Committee.