Patents and innovations by Texas A&M AgriLife Research faculty comprised roughly a third of those recognized this year by the Texas A&M University System Technology and Commercialization Office.
The annual Patent and Innovation Awards recognize the past year’s inventions that garnered patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and plant variety protection certificates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The event also highlights individuals whose research exemplifies the spirit of innovation within the Texas A&M University System.
David Byrne, Ph.D., AgriLife Research rose geneticist, stone fruit breeder and professor in the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, received one of four Texas A&M Innovation Awards for the year — selected from among submitted nominations. He joined 27 other AgriLife Research scientists whose patents and variety protection certificates were recognized during a luncheon April 22. A total of 47 patents and certificates, including 12 from AgriLife Research faculty, were recognized.
“Innovation successes like patents and variety protections mark the delivery of research-borne solutions to the grand challenges that face humans, our environments and our economies,” said Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., director of AgriLife Research. “They are important milestones that denote success in our overall agency mission, and I congratulate each of our recipients.”
A career of innovation
Byrne holds the Basye Endowed Chair in Rose Genetics and works internationally in Prunus and Rosa breeding and genetics. He worked in the 1990s alongside rose breeder and retired mathematics professor Robert Basye, Ph.D., to launch the Rose Breeding and Genetics Program. The program was later bolstered by a donation of breeding stock from Ralph Moore, known as the Father of the Miniature Rose.
Byrne also led the national Combating Rose Rosette Disease project, part of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative. He continues to work alongside numerous rose scientists, private breeding programs, ornamental nurseries, marketers, producers and ornamental hobbyist groups.
His work has also included a Fulbright Scholarship to teach ornamental and fruit breeding in Brazil; international trips to explore and collect germplasm; invited talks and participation in international meetings; and sponsoring visiting scientists from Pakistan, China, Brazil, Iran, Cameroon and Thailand.
Through his breeding work since 1983, Byrne has released more than 30 peach cultivars adapted to mild winter humid conditions, including tropical zones. Fewer than 10 existed before his arrival, and none was sweet. More than a dozen plant patents have been issued for his peach and nectarine varieties to date, with most now undergoing commercialization in the U.S. and abroad via Texas A&M licensing agreements. Byrne’s program aims for more variety releases in the future.
Byrne now leads the Tools for Genomics-Assisted Breeding in Polyploids project, which continues to grow interest and adoption of polyploid computational tools. He also is chair of the National Clean Plant Network for roses.
Byrne’s ongoing work involves development and integration of computational breeding tools to better use genomic information in polyploid crops. He plans for his work with breeders to result in increasingly disease resistant commercial roses.
Inventions by the following AgriLife Research scientists and teams were granted patent protection by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2021.
— Zoysiagrass named ‘DALZ 1308’ — Ambika Chandra, Ph.D., professor and turfgrass breeder, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences; Anthony Genovesi, Ph.D., research scientist; and Meghyn Meeks, Ph.D., assistant research scientist, all at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.
— Four patents – Yongheng Huang, Ph.D., professor and environmental engineer, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Bryan-College Station — Mixed aluminum and iron salt solution for enhancing the hybrid zero-valent iron media system reactivity for treating metal-contaminated wastewater. Activated hybrid zero-valent iron treatment system and methods for generation and use thereof. Method for removal of recalcitrant selenium species from wastewater. Selenium removal using aluminum salt at conditioning and reaction stages to activate zero-valent iron in pironox process.
— Methods, compositions and systems for culturing and characterizing fastidious plant microbes — Kranthi Mandadi, Ph.D., associate professor and plant molecular biologist, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and Sonia Christina Irigoyen Aranda, Ph.D., associate research scientist, both at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
— Compositions and methods of enhancing immune responses to enteric pathogens — Luc Berghman, Ph.D., professor, Department of Poultry Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Bryan-College Station.
— Compositions and methods for drug sensitization of parasites — Manchi Reddy, Ph.D., associate research scientist; James C. Sacchettini, Ph.D., professor and biochemist; and Nian E. Zhou, Ph.D., senior research scientist, all in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Bryan-College Station; and Bill McCutchen, Ph.D., center director and associate professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Stephenville.
— Devices and methods for a pyrolysis and gasification system for biomass feedstock — Sergio Capareda, Ph.D., professor and agricultural engineer, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Bryan-College Station.
— Methods and compositions for modulating gossypol content in cotton plants — Keerti Rathore, Ph.D., professor and plant biotechnologist; Leanne Campbell, research associate; and Devendra Pandeya, assistant research scientist, all in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Bryan-College Station.
Plant variety protection certificate awards
The following AgriLife Research teams garnered USDA plant variety protection certificates in 2021.
— TAM 115 common wheat — Jackie Rudd, Ph.D., Regents Fellow and wheat breeder; Jason Baker, senior research associate; Shannon Baker, research associate; Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist; Qingwu Xue, Ph.D., professor and crop stress physiologist, and Shuyu Liu, Ph.D., professor and small grains geneticist, all located at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo; Joseph Awika, Ph.D., professor and department head, Department of Food Science and Technology; and Amir M. Ibrahim, Ph.D., professor and wheat breeder; Geraldine Opena, Ph.D., research associate; Bryan Simoneaux, senior research associate; and Russell Sutton, assistant research scientist, all in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Bryan-College Station.
— TAM 205 common wheat – Rudd, Awika, Jason Baker, Shannon Baker, Ibrahim, Liu, Opena, Simoneaux, Sutton, Xue and Emi Kimura, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension agronomist and state peanut specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon.