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Plant-Specific and Agricultural Field/Orchard/Crop Optimization Using Aerial Image Processing

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a system that combines large datasets of aerial imagery with artificial intelligence to acquire per-plant analytics and predict crop yields. The system is a scalable per-tree yield prediction model for nut crops, provides large-scale canopy profile analytics in 3D, and the next generation of aerial image analytics for agriculture.

Synthetic Biology Methods and Systems to Synthesize Strigolactone

Prof. Yanran Li and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a biosynthetic method for producing different strigolactones by designing different biosynthetic pathways in engineered microbial systems. The invention includes engineered E. coli - S. cerevisiae co-culture systems for the biosynthesis of both non-canonical and canonical SLs, including but not limited to carlactone (CL), carlactonic acid (CLA), 5-deoxystrigol(5DS), 4-Deoxyorobanchol (4DO) and orobanchol. This technology allows SLs to be biosynthetically produced in large scale for use in innovative  agrochemicals such as phyto-regulators,  fertilizers, biostimulants that enhance the nutrient uptake efficiency. Fig 1: Mimicking plant strigolactone pathway distribution in the engineered E. coli-S. cerevisiae coculture.

Non-melting, Sustainable, Reusable, Plastic-Free and Biodegradable Food Coolant Cubes

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a nature-based, plastic-free, non-melting, reusable, sustainable, self-cleanable (anti-fungal), and biodegradable robust cooling system for the applications in cold chains. The system has comparable cooling efficiency to traditional ice and drastically reduces water consumption, prevents potential microbial cross-contamination caused by melt-water, and eliminates the use of plastic and other synthetic materials.

Development of Polygalacturonase Inhibiting Proteins as an Ecological and Non-Toxic Fungal Control Agent

Prof. Yanran Li and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed an eco-friendly fungal control tool using polygalacturonase inhibiting proteins (PGIP). In plants, polygalacturonic-inhibiting proteins (PGIPs) play critical roles for resistance to fungal disease by inhibiting the pectin depolymerization activity of endo polygalacturonase (PGs), one type of enzyme secreted by pathogens that compromise plant cell walls and leave the plant susceptible to disease. Applying this protein exogenously will inhibit and reduce the fungal spread rate to prevent major economic losses in post harvest crops caused by fungus. Fig 1: Botrytis cinerea treated with either an antifungal known as natamycin (positive control), empty vector yeast (negative control) low copy (LC) or UCR’s high copy (HC) tPvPGIP2_5-8 secreting yeast.

(SD2022-045) RUBY Plasmids: A reporter for noninvasively monitoring gene expression and plant transformation

Reporters have been widely used to visualize gene expression, protein localization, and other cellular activities, but the commonly used reporters require special equipment, expensive chemicals, or invasive treatments.

High-throughput Microfluidic Research Platform for Performing Versatile Single-Cell Molecular Timed-Release Assays within Droplets

Researchers at UCI have designed a high-throughput, cost-effective microfluidic platform as a research tool for performing genomic, proteomic, single-cell, pharmacological, and agricultural studies across multiple cell types.

Novel Artificial Vesicle Formulation to Deliver Anti-Fungal Gene Targeting RNAs for Crop Protection

Prof. Hailing Jin and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed novel vesicle formulations to deliver antifungal siRNA as a spray so that crop damage and crop loss is minimized. These vesicle/siRNA formulations are used in Spray-Induced Gene silencing (SIGS) approaches to protect crops and post-harvest plant material from fungal pathogens and other pests. This new formulation is  an eco-friendly, effective, and cost-efficient alternative to traditional pesticides, and offers a way to target specific pathogen genes without the need for generating a GMO crop. Fig 1: External spray application of UCR SIGs (AVs-Bc-DCL1/2-dsRNA) inhibited B. cinerea virulence on tomato fruits, grape berries, lettuce leaves and rose petals compared to the water and control (YFP-dsRNA) (non-specific target sequence) treatments.

Use of Ozone and Infrared Heating as a Pre-treatment for Drying Fruit

Sequential ozone and infrared pre-treatments prior to hot air drying of fruit inactivates enzymes responsible for fruit browning, and concurrently reduces microbial contamination risk and air drying time.

Protein Inhibitor of Type II-A CRISPR-Cas System

The inventors have discovered three protein inhibitors of the type II-A CRISPR-Cas system that specifically inhibit Cas9 from staphylococcus aureus. This finding is of potential importance to many companies in the CRISPR space. 

Real-time Monitoring Technique for Detecting Insect Activity in Stored Grains

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a wireless imaging technique capable of the real-time monitoring of insect activity in stored grains.

Protein Inhibitor of Type VI-B CRISPR-Cas System

The inventors have discovered the first protein inhibitor of the type VI-B CRISPR-Cas system. By controlling this CRISPR system, one could possibly ameliorate the toxicity and off-target cleavage activity observed with the use of the type VI CRISPR system. Moreover, these proteins can also serve as an antidote for instances where the use of CRISPR-Cas technology poses a safety risk. Additionally, this technology can also be used for engineering genetic circuits in mammalian cells. This finding is of potential importance to many companies in the CRISPR space. 

Structured "Meat" Processes and Products from Cells Grown in Suspension Culture

Producing meat products using cells grown in culture (instead of via animal husbandry farming) has many benefits and great potential. Current cell-cultured approaches either: (1) use suspension culture to produce homogenous products that don't meet consumer taste expectations for a substitute meat, or (2) organ culture methods to create products that meet consumer taste expectations, but at unacceptably high prices. To address this situation, researchers at UC Berkeley have been developing a process by which cells are grown in free suspension, making possible the economies of scaling that result from using large stirred tanks. After growth, the cells can be assembled into desirable macroscopic structures by controlling the conditions under which the desired multiple cell types and scaffolds are mixed and dewatered. The macroscopic structures include features such as fat marbling and muscle fiber orientation as expected by meat consumers.

Improved guide RNA and Protein Design for CasX-based Gene Editing Platform

The inventors have developed two new CasX gene-editing platforms (DpbCasXv2 and PlmCasXv2) through rationale structural engineering of the CasX protein and gRNA, which yield improved in vitro and in vivo behaviors. These platforms dramatically increase DNA cleavage activity and can be used as the basis for further improving CasX tools.The RNA-guided CRISPR-associated (Cas) protein CasX has been reported as a fundamentally distinct, RNA-guided platform compared to Cas9 and Cpf1. Structural studies revealed structural differences within the nucleotide-binding loops of CasX, with a compact protein size less than 1,000 amino acids, and guide RNA (gRNA) scaffold stem. These structural differences affect the active ternary complex assembly, leading to different in vivo and in vitro behaviors of these two enzymes.

Sorting and Drying Methods for Off-ground Harvested Almonds

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed new methods for sorting and drying freshly harvested almonds with high processing and energy efficiency. 

Expressing Multiple Genes From A Single Transcript In Algae And Plants

Green algae have been promoted as vehicles for the production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, food additives, vaccines, and for toxic substance remediation, and many plants are the focus of efforts to produce drought tolerant, pest resistant, or more nutritious crops. Many of these engineering efforts rely on expression of multiple transgenes (e.g. in a multistep metabolic pathway to avoid accumulation of a toxic intermediate). It can also be useful to produce two or more proteins in a particular stoichiometry, as in a heterodimer that requires equimolar production of two polypeptides. Whether the goal is to express one transgene, or several, most efforts to transform plants and algae require cotransformation of the gene of interest with a selectable marker, such as a gene that confers resistance to a drug or herbicide, or complements an auxotrophy. Unfortunately, commonly used methods for co-transformation of algae and other plants are very inefficient. UC Berkeley investigators have developed a method for polycistronic gene expression,  and show how to achieve this using the organism's own sequences, without recourse to viral elements or other foreign elements, which is important for any technology where bioproducts are generated, since these may be used on humans (cosmetics) or in humans (food additives), especially crop technology.

Foliar Formulation to Protect Plants from Abiotic Stress

Prof. Juan Pablo Giraldo and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a foliar formulation for increasing crop protection and photosynthetic performance when crops are under light, heat, and salinity stress. This is achieved by applying a nanomaterial (poly (acrylic acid) nanoceria, PNC) that interacts with plant chloroplasts to reduce abiotic stress. The nanoparticle formulation uses a novel, scalable and biocompatible approach to protect plant seeds, seedlings, and mature plants from stress.  The emerging field of nano-enabled agriculture has the potential to create crops that are protected from climate change induced stresses and have enhanced photosynthesis.   Fig 1: a, Nanoceria (PNC) increases photosynthesis and biomass in Arabidopsis plants under stress. No nanoparticles (NNP) are shown as control. b, Substantial damage to Arabidopsis plants exposed to excess light was mitigated by PNC.  

Low Cost and Scalable Sap Feeding Insect Rearing and Gene Editing System

Profs. Peter Atkinson and Linda Walling at UCR have developed an in vitro rearing system on 3.5-cm and 6-cm  leaf disc plates that support egg to adult development in as little as 19 days. This system translates to a small-footprint, cost-effective rearing process, which can be industrialized, automated  and applied to other sap-feeding insects. Each plate may be used as an independent experiment or a mini-colony of a new whitefly genetic strain. Creating genetically modified whiteflies and other sap-feeding insects for genetic manipulation involves microinjecting embryos (eggs), which remain attached to excised leaf discs, which have been pretreated to remain viable throughout the whitefly life cycle.  This technology can be used to maintain colonies of whitefly in a more cost-effective way than existing approaches. In addition, this technology has been used to generate the first genetic mutants in the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis, a significant pest of Californian viticulture and thus opening the possibility of developing new strategies for its control and elimination. Fig. 1A shows a wild-type male whitefly and a mutant white male whitefly, which was generated by CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis using the leaf-disc injection and rearing protocols. Fig. 1 B shows a mosaic-eyed glassy-winged sharpshooter that was generated using the same technology.     Fig. 2 Each incubator (left) can hold up to 700 experiments/mini-whitefly colonies compared to the bugdorm (right), which houses one colony/experiment per tent. One incubator would replace ~11 biosafety level 2 (BSL2) greenhouses.    

Chimeric Cas9 Variants With Novel Engineered Enzymatic Activities

In this invention, the HNH domain of a Cas9 is replaced by a domain that could have diverse enzymatic activities. This invention enables engineering of Cas9 chimeras that possess novel, conformation-sensitive enzymatic activity to perform specific genome editing in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo.Prior to this invention, all of the strategies to engineer Cas9 fusion proteins and provide Cas9 with non-natural enzymatic activity for genome manipulations were engineered by fusing specific domains to the N- or C-terminus of Cas9 via long and flexible linkers, or through domain insertion approach. The disadvantages of these synthetic Cas9 chimeras are that the attached domain is on the long flexible linker, and it is very dynamic. Thus, these fusions have a broad activity window and they are large, which makes it difficult to deliver them to the cells. 

Decorating Chromatin for Precise Genome Editing Using CRISPR

A novel fusion construct that fuses Cas9 to a truncated version of human PRDM9 with the purpose of improving precise genome editing via homologous direceted repair (HDR). PRDM9 is a protein that deposits histone marks H3K4me3 and H3K36me3 simultaneously during meiosis to mark recombination hot spots where crossover occurs and is resolved by homologous recombination. H3K36me3 has also been demonstrated to be required upstream of homologous recombination repair after double stranded breaks (DSBs) and during V(D)J recombination for adaptive immunity. Recent evidence suggests PRDM9 acts as a pioneer factor opening closed chromatin. The newly engineered PRDM9C-Cas9 fusion construct shows increased HDR and decreased non-homologous end joining mediated insertions and deletions (indels).

Fusion Protein for Treatment of Inflammatory Diseases

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a plant-based, fusion protein for use in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Methods for Producing Cultured Meat that has Heterogeneous Composition

UCLA researchers in the Departments of Integrative Biology and Physiology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology have developed a novel method for the production of marbled, cultured meat with desirable texture and flavor.

Development Of Biosensors For Drought Stress In Plants

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a prototype biosensor that can monitor detectable levels of hormones present in plants experiencing drought or other environmental stress.

Single Conjugative Vector for Genome Editing by RNA-guided Transposition

The inventors have constructed conjugative plasmids for intra- and inter-species delivery and expression of RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas transposases for organism- and site-specific genome editing by targeted transposon insertion. This invention enables integration of large, customizable DNA segments (encoded within a transposon) into prokaryotic genomes at specific locations and with low rates of off-target integration.

TRM: HIF-1 alpha KO Mice (CRE)

Hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha is a transcriptional regulator of the adaptive response to hypoxia. When activated under hypoxic conditions, it can turn on over 40 genes involved in a variety of physiological activities. The dysregulation or alteration by mutation can lead to pathophysiology in areas of energy metabolism, cancer, cell survival and tumor invasion.

Method For Production Of Fatty Acids In Blue-Green Algae

Currently, renewable fatty acids are obtained solely from plant oils. Medium chain fatty acids (C8-C14) are typically sourced from coconut and palm oil, whereas longer chain saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are typically sourced from tallow, soy, corn or sunflower oil. Fatty acids are widely used for food, personal care products, industrial applications (e.g., lubricants, adhesives, detergents and plastics), as well as increasingly as biofuels. The demand for renewable fatty acids is rising and expanding. Given the current understanding of biological pathways it becomes possible to utilize other organisms, especially microorganisms, for the production of renewable chemicals such as fatty acids.

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