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Australia, Pakistan, US Department of Agriculture, IatroQuest, NextGen Sciences, Lumera

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Australia Asks Pakistan to Use DNA Technology to test Contested Wheat

Australia is asking Pakistan to use DNA technology to test a contested shipment of 150,000 metric tons of wheat exported from Down Under for the karnal bunt fungus, according to news reports last week.

Karnal bunt is a fungal disease of wheat and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). The disease is caused by the fungus Tilletia indica Mitra, also known as Neovossia indica, according to the US Department of Agriculture, which says the processing of grain used for consumption often kills Tilletia indica, and grain used for consumption is not a risk for the spread of this disease.

However, Australia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, fears consequences for its crop. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said the nation’s wheat export industry could be devastated if karnal bunt was confirmed in Australia, according to an Associated Press report from the country.

The exporting company, AWB Limited, said the four cargos of wheat did not contain the fungus when tested before and after shipment.


ARS Seeks Extra $12 Million in ‘05 Budget To Zero in on Genes for Desirable Traits

Edward Knipling, the acting administrator for the US Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service told Congress last week that the agency will ask for an additional $12 million for additional research to identify and characterize genes that influence traits such as growth, disease resistance, and stress tolerance in plants, and reproduction, feed efficiency, and well-being in animals.

Another $5 million requested increase will go to target research on identifying the genes responsible for pesticide resistance in the southern cattle tick and the fire ant.

The agency in total is seeking a total budget of $1.2 billion, an increase of $20 million from ‘04, but with a net reduction of $95 million for research projects.


IatroQuest Collects from The Agency

Montreal-based IatroQuest, a biosensor developer, announced last week funding from In-Q-Tel, the US Central Intelligence Agency’s venture-capital investment arm.

Funding was not disclosed.

IatroQuest is developing the Bio-Alloy biochip that uses photoluminescence and a low-power blue LED light as a molecular detection method. The company is also targeting the device for applications in microarray analysis of genes and proteins, as well as diagnostics.


NextGen Sciences Takes VC Investment

Cambridgeshire, UK-based NextGen Sciences, which manufactures the Protein Array workstation distributed exclusively by PerkinElmer, last week announced private equity investment from Create Partners Ltd. and a syndicate of German private investors.

The amount and terms of the investment were not disclosed. Create Partners is investing a £20 million ($36 million) fund that closed in November.

The four-year-old company said it will use the funding to further develop two new product lines launched in August — the ExpressionFactory, which automates protein and gene expression technology, and the a2DE, a 2-dimensional electrophoresis system.


Lumera Grabs $500,000 Funding

Lumera, a subsidiary of Bothell, Wash.-based Microvision, has raised funding of $500,000 from a sale of Series B convertible stock, according to news reports.

Lumera, a manufacturer and developer of polymer materials to create product offerings that target optical and wireless communications systems, is marketing the MRC17 product line of microarray slide coatings.

The Scan

Just Breathing

A new analysis suggests that most Mycobacterium tuberculosis is spread by aerosols from breathing, rather than by coughing, the New York Times reports.

Just Like This One

NPR reports that the World Health Organization has hired a South African biotech company to recreate mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 that is similar to the one developed by Moderna.

Slow Start

The Wall Street Journal reports that Biogen's Alzheimer's disease treatment had revenues for July through September that totaled $300,000.

Genome Research Papers on Cancer Chromatin, Splicing in the Thymus, Circular RNAs in Cancer

In Genome Research this week: analysis of bivalent chromatin sites, RBFOX splicing factors' role in thymic epithelial cells, and more.