Mississippi State University researchers added two rice varieties this year to the university’s growing list of intellectual property holdings that generate revenue and benefit consumers.
As a major research institution, MSU holds a number of commercially valuable patents and other forms of intellectual property protections.
This summer, researchers at MSU’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss., released a new conventional rice variety named Rex. They also submitted a Clearfield variety to a company for potential commercial release.
“We test numerous rice lines in multiple environments each year,” said Tim Walker, a Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station agronomist. “Rex has performed favorably for a few years, and the Clearfield line has shown promise the last two years.”
Developing a new seed variety can take 10 years or longer.
Rex performed well in variety trials in 2008 and in the Uniform Regional Rice Nursery Trials. Walker said it was grown for seed purification in 2009, a necessary step before the line can be released.
To be classified as a new variety, a seed must have demonstrated improvements or differences over existing varieties. Rex is 40 inches tall, possesses good straw strength, and has averaged more than 200 bushels per acre in production. It matures about two days later than Cocodrie, the area’s current industry-standard rice variety.
Dwight Kanter, MAFES rice breeder, said the Clearfield variety is one of an increasingly popular line that helps growers eliminate weedy red rice, which lowers yields and reduces the crop’s selling price. Clearfield rice is planted on more than half the rice acres in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
“Rice cultivars with Clearfield technology continue to gain an increasing share of the planted acreage,” Kanter said.
The Clearfield rice developed in Stoneville averaged 207 bushels per acre in 2009. Kanter said the variety shows good straw strength, which helps prevent the rice from lodging, or being knocked over by wind or rain.
BASF introduced Clearfield rice commercially in 2002. A commercialization agreement is in process between MAFES and BASF for the new Clearfield variety. Once agreed upon, the new variety should be available through Horizon Ag, LLC in 2011. Rex rice seed will be available for commercial seed production next year as well.
MSU spends more than $200 million each year on research, making it one of the nation’s top 100 science and engineering research universities. In 2008, MSU ranked No. 7 nationally in research in the agricultural sciences and No. 34 on the National Science Foundation’s list of public universities engaged in engineering research.
These rice varieties are part of MSU’s intellectual property portfolio, which holds nearly 650 technology disclosures, including more than 100 issued U.S. Patents, two registered trademarks and 20 registered copyrights for software and similar products. Additionally, it has six Plant Variety Protection claims, a certification that covers seed varieties produced at MSU.
In all, the university has issued more than 100 licenses for technologies that have been or are related to products or services offered by companies, giving them the right to use the technology developed at MSU.
The university receives royalty income from the commercialization efforts of this intellectual property.
“The Office of Technology Commercialization strives to transfer Mississippi State University technology, generated through university research, to the existing companies and start-up companies for the commercialization of life-quality improving products and services,” Kasper said.