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  • RUBY corn

    Maize transformation is a crucial technique for introducing desired genetic traits; however, this is a challenging process for many laboratories. To improve this process, members of the Iowa State University Crop Bioengineering center built new vector systems for the effective selection of transgenic plants. The journal article, featured as a cover story in the August issue of Plant Physiology is titled "New T-DNA binary vectors with Nptll selection and RUBY reporter for efficient maize transformation and targeted mutagenesis." This work is a collaborative effort of multiple members of the Crop Bioengineering Center, including Keunsub Lee, Minjeong Kang, and Kan Wang of the Agronomy Department as well as Qing (Jessica) Ji and Sehiza Grosic of the Crop Bioengineering Laboratory.

  • Strategies for genotype-flexible plant transformation

    A recent review article, written by Dr. Keunsub Lee (a CBC member) and Dr. Kan Wang (CBC co-director) discusses various ways to improve the process of genotype-flexible plant transformation. Plant genetic transformation is difficult in many species – this discusses ways to make it a more effective and wider-ranging process using morphogenic transcription factors (MTFs). The MTFs are transcription factors that play a role in the regulation of cell morphogenesis in plants. The recent development in understanding the mechanisms and application of the MTFs improves the success rate of plant transformation and allows for more types of plants to be transformed. More information can be found here. 

  • BRIDGEcereal for uncovering large indels and graphing haplotypes for genes of interest

    Streamline unsupervised machine learning to survey and graph indel-based haplotypes from pan-genomes

    Researchers have come up with a simpler way to study genetic variations in pan-genomes, which are the complete set of genes in a particular species, by using a type of computer learning called unsupervised machine learning. Their method focuses on a specific type of genetic variation called indels, which are small changes in the DNA sequence. This approach helps scientists gain insights into the genetic diversity among different species in a less time-consuming manner, which can lead to a better understanding of how genes evolve and function in various organisms.

  • Maize genetic transformation is technically challenging and resource demanding. It can take many months when using the traditional protocol.  Masters et al. reported a QuickCorn protocol to further simplify maize transformation by removing the callus induction step that is usually necessary. The following video demonstrates this QuickCorn protocol, which can be used by researchers with minimum training on maize transformation and only takes five to seven weeks to become rooted and transferable. This Agrobacterium-mediated transformation has the potential to grow the list of transformable genotypes and may possibly be used with other species.

  • Kan Wang's team has published a new article on the transformation of teosinte, which is the ancestor of modern maize (Zea mays). The protocol established in their work provides a major enabling technology for research toward the understanding of this important plant in crop domestication. Click here to read the ISU News Service story.

  • CBC members Bassham and Bhattacharyya named AAAS Fellows

    Congratulations to Diane Bassham and Madan Bhattacharyya who were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science! Diane was recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of plant cell biology, and Madan was recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of plant-microbe interactions.  For more information, visit the the ISU news release story.

  • The schedule for the 2022 CBC Spring Seminar Series is here! Please join us at noon on every other Wednesday. Please click the link below to view the current schedule.


  • Improved, practical crop breeding tools are essential to meet the increasing global demands for sustainable food production, made more urgent by the unpredictable stresses driven by a changing climate.

    To help meet this need, the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) has awarded a $3.99 million award to researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Iowa State University to develop an efficient, robust genome engineering toolkit that will introduce greater genetic diversity to tropical maize and its temperate cousin, corn.

    Click here to see the full story.

  • The 2020 CBC Fall Members Meeting was held virtually on Dec. 8 and 9. The agenda for the meeting highlighted progress on nine projects funded by the CBC Seed Grant Initiative in 2019, featured talks by off campus members Bing Yang and Jim Birchler, and an invited talk by Tim Kelliher from Syngenta. The meeting concluded with an update on upcoming activities and a discussion of future areas of emphasis for the CBC.

  • Congratulations to Kan Wang who was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science! Kan was recognized "for advances in genetic engineering in plants using Agrobacterium tumefaciens."  For more information, visit the the ISU news release story at

  • The CBC members and associates met in the Reiman Gardens on December 5-6 to review the state of the center, share research and discuss long-term program direction. The centerpiece of the two half-day meeting was progress reports from current and past seed grants funded through CBC. The CBC Seed Grant Initiative entails research and scholarship spanning public receptivity of genome editing technologies, exploring transformation and CRISPR reagent delivery technologies, and applications of genome editing for gene discovery and pathway elucidation. This year, three guest speakers, Sergei Svitashev (Corteva Agriscience), Cassie Edgar (McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC) and Jeff Essner (GDCB, ISU), shared their research and perspective of the CRISPR technology, its potential and implication for the society.

  • The CBC is pleased to welcome Dr. Jim Birchler, Curators’ Professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, as a new external member. Dr. Birchler is known for many contributions to maize genetics, cytology, engineering minichromosomes, and developing fast-flowering mini-maize lines. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2011), member of the National Academy of Inventors, and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  • Congratulations to Dipali Sashital! Dipa was one of two LAS faculty members who received the 2019 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Research.

  • Kan Wang and Heidi Kaeppler (University of Wisconsin) received a $2.9 million award from the National Science Foundation to develop the next generation of crop transformation tools and the crop geneticists who will work with them. The goals of the four-year NSF-funded project will be to develop more efficient genetic engineering systems that can be used to improve corn, soybeans and other crops. The researchers will seek to create enhanced, open-source crop engineering tools and biological materials necessary to enable public crop genome research. Click here for more details on the award.

  • Kan Wang, CBC co-director, gave presentations on crop genetic transformation and genome editing at the VISCEA Conference, July 3-6, 2019, in Vienna Austria.

  • Dipali Sashital, CBC Council member and Assistant Professor of Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, gave an invited presentation entitled “Rewriting DNA: Genome editing in the CRISPR era” at the Rotary Club of Ames, May 20, 2019.

  • Dipali Sashital, CBC Council member and Assistant Professor of Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology was selected as a recipient of the 2019 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. She is one of 13 teacher-scholars nationwide selected to receive this prestigious honor.

  • Congratulations to Steve Whitham! Steve received the 2019 Rossmann Manatt Faculty Development Award. The Rossmann Manatt Award recognizes a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences or College of Human Sciences tenured faculty member who has demonstrated an exceptional level of creativity and productivity in scholarship, teaching and service, and who shows great promise of continuing those achievements

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