Meet Our Scientists | Tim Nowatzki | Advancing Plant Phenotyping Through Collaboration
Non-destructive, in-field measurement of corn stalk integrity
Focus Area: Enabling Technologies
Every year stalk rot diseases and stalk boring insect infestations can result in serious damage to corn crops and significant yield losses. Current methods to evaluate resistance of corn varieties to stalk rots and borers require manual splitting of stalks and visually assessing or measuring the amount of internal stalk damage. These methods are not only labor and time intensive, but also can result in qualitative scoring and the destruction of valuable plant material. The ability to assess the internal integrity of corn stalks and the level of resistance to disease infection or insect damage in a rapid, non-destructive manner in the field would accelerate the generation of new resistant corn varieties.
At Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, our goal is to develop effective, sustainable, and durable solutions to crop diseases and pests, which is enabled by robust and rapid phenotyping assays. We invite public and private sector scientists to join in our efforts by submitting a research proposal for innovative approaches to accelerate phenotyping in the field with non-destructive methods for measurement of corn stalk integrity.
What We Are Seeking
Non-confidential proposals describing a plan to develop and evaluate corn stalk pith damage phenotyping methods that meet the following specifications:
- Real-time, reproducible, quantitative measurement of the extent of insect tunneling and/or pathogen-induced stalk infection without stalk splitting or physical damage to the plant
- Quantification of internal stalk integrity from as much of the stalk as possible (at a minimum from multiple points along the stalk from the base of the plant to primary ear)
- Time-efficient measurement and data recording/storage for high volume phenotyping (ideally under 30 seconds per plant per person or hundreds of stalks per hour)
- Portable, durable, and cleanable for use in field conditions (including irregular terrain and debris)
- Improve upon safety issues associated with manual stalk splitting (cutting hazard, repetitive motion, fatigue)
- Imaging the extent of damage per stalk is desirable, but not required. Image analysis may occur offsite, post measurement
The proposal should also include a high-level timeline to a proof of concept within a 12-month period and a breakdown of the estimated project cost.
Who Should Apply
- Any creative and/or innovative scientist with ideas that can be adapted to solve this challenge
- Scientists and/or engineers with expertise in non-destructive analysis of heterogeneous tissues or materials
- Individuals with expertise and interest in applying innovative methods to assessing plant disease and insect damage (e.g., plant pathologists, entomologists, breeders, biomedical researchers, biologists, etc.)
- Institutions, organizations, entrepreneurs, or individuals with related experience and interest
For submissions received by April 1, 2019:
- We will evaluate your submission and notify you of its status by June 1, 2019.
- After the first round of submissions, review dates will recur on the 1st of every month until a selection has been made (e.g., May 1, June 1, etc).
- An Open Innovation representative will contact selected applicants to provide further details on the grant process.
Intellectual property ownership and publication rights will remain with the selected grant applicants.
How Can We Help
- Funding (up to $50,000)
- As applicable:
- Access to infected/infested plants at controlled environments and/or fields within a global network of Corteva field testing and research locations
- Comparison to existing methods for stalk damage
- Opportunity for an extended collaboration and a path to market for viable concepts