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Southern Sun Biosystems, Inc.

Superfund Research Program

Novel Accelerated in vitro Breeding for Phytoremediation

Project Leader: Mihaly Czako
Grant Number: R42ES013417
Funding Period: Phase II: 2006-2008
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The long-term goal of the collaboration between the USC and Southern Sun BioSystems is to create a plant breeding and remediation technology-development center which would supply hardware, protocols for breeding-selection and mass production of elite plants for nurseries and remediation businesses, with licensing and tracking mechanisms for protecting intellectual property. This project is built on the successful demonstration of the feasibility of our novel technology for in vitro breeding of a large biomass plant for field-scale phytoremediation. The technology transfer capitalizes on Southern Sun's innovative mass propagation technologies and on somaclonal breeding by amplification of the genetic variation-generating step, that is the number of cell divisions in the totipotent cell cultures subjected to selection. A commercialization plan for elite plant sales and breeding technology is supported by letters of commitment from a variety of remediation and biomass utilizing businesses. Phase II objectives: (1) the frequency and extent of somaclonal variation in second round of culture and (2) preselection using the same pollutant (testing physiological constraints on dehalogenation); (3) add valuable new traits (morphological variations, higher cellulose to lignin ratio) to elite lines from Phase I and (4) to a salt tolerant line; (5) improve mass propagation, transportation, acclimatization by prevention of hyperhydricity; (6) certify elite lines by determining first order detoxification rate constant in hydroponic system, (7) by testing stability of the new traits, and by crop trials to demonstrate remediation of trichlorophenol (and biomass production) of TCP at Southern Sun (8a), and to demonstrate biomass production and remediation of a select pollutant in city sewage sludge at BioTech, Inc., Cayce SC (8b), and potentially in hog lagoons in Clinton, NC. Phase II will produce: elite lines with certified superior haloorganic detoxification ability with added traits to promote end uses, sufficient in vitro stock for mass propagation/field applications, an improved strategic efficiency, cost per unit output, of elite plants for phytoremediation, and pre-booked sales.

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