Innovative cotton breeding and successful trait integration will continue
John Pellow has been named the new PhytoGen global breeding leader for cotton at Dow AgroSciences. Pellow will replace David Anderson, who has led an accomplished career at PhytoGen and Dow AgroSciences. Pellow, who is currently the trait deployment leader at Dow AgroSciences, will step into his new role upon Anderson’s retirement this spring.
“David has done an amazing job bringing together innovative ways of developing cotton varieties while helping build and maintain a business,” Pellow says of his longtime colleague. “We’ll follow the streamlined model David established to quickly bring forward the next generation of industry leading, quality varieties with the latest yield protection traits for growers.”
Pellow recently led the successful integration of new weed resistance traits in soybeans in North America and South America for Dow AgroSciences. Prior to that, Pellow organized and strengthened the Midsouth cotton breeding program for PhytoGen and served as station leader for several years. During his earlier service as a trait integration manager in cotton, Pellow helped bring the WideStrike® Insect Protection trait to market. He also released several successful Pima and Acala varieties for PhytoGen while working as cotton breeder in California.
“John has lived this journey with me,” Anderson says. “He’s been instrumental in developing the approaches that have made PhytoGen successful. John is perfectly positioned to move this company into the future while maintaining our collegial atmosphere.”
Creating cottonseed from scratch
Pellow and Anderson have worked together closely for more than 30 years, helping build the company that is now PhytoGen, founded in 1980. Anderson joined PhytoGen as its first scientist and as the molecular biology group following the completion of his postdoctoral work in 1980. He began laboratory activities for PhytoGen in early 1981.
“When we began operations, the challenges were enormous,” Anderson says. “There were no useful genes isolated for plants, no vectors to carry those genes into cotton plant cells, no selectable markers. Nor were there any proven methods to regenerate cotton plants from cells once transformation had been achieved.”
Inspired with some notions about transforming plants with isolated genes, Anderson began assembling a team of tissue culture scientists and molecular biologists equally challenged to solve significant problems facing cotton producers. Anderson also brought in famed H.B. Cooper, known as the “father of cotton breeding” in California. It was Cooper who gathered germplasm from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other breeder exchanges for the startup company.
Pima quality to Acala and Upland cottonseed
From the inception of the cotton program, the mission of PhytoGen has been to improve the overall economics of cotton production. To achieve that, Anderson and his team set forth to become the industry’s preferred provider of new technology in high-yielding cultivars. In addition, the goal has been to yield fibers prized by mills for their spinning performance.
Anderson’s team assembled useful genes, promoters, gene constructs, transformation methods and regeneration protocols that created a broad capability in cotton. One of the PhytoGen team’s greatest successes was the invention of a glyphosate-resistant (resistance to Roundup® herbicide) trait for cotton, for which Dow AgroSciences, through PhytoGen, is the patent holder.
“In my opinion, David Anderson is the Bill Gates of the cotton industry,” says Duane Canfield, portfolio marketing leader for PhytoGen cottonseed and traits. “First, David took on Pima cotton breeding and shattered yield limitations. He then did the same thing to Acala and has been instrumental in moving those high yield and quality expectations into the Upland cottonseed market.”
Anderson also established a unique development network where the breeding and commercial units closely work together to bring new products to market.
“I can say without fear of contradiction that we have always had great people to work with at PhytoGen,” Anderson says. “People who wanted to do a job rather than just have a job. They are innovative and motivated by the challenges we continue to face.”
PhytoGen was one of the first biotechnology companies to focus exclusively on plants and quickly moved to cotton as the primary crop focus, in large part because the principle shareholder in PhytoGen was then the J.G. Boswell Company. Boswell was the nation’s largest single cotton producer and ginner. The Boswell relationship provided PhytoGen access to farm managers and agronomists who possessed tremendous knowledge of cotton farming practices, agronomic challenges, diseases and pests, and the importance of fiber quality in driving output value.
“In the span of his amazing career and numerous accomplishments, David’s leadership has taken PhytoGen from zero to 20 percent marketshare,” Canfield says. “The people he’s trained and the standards he has established will continue with this company and with his successor. David leaves us with a strong foundation for future success and we know John is the right man to move us forward.”
PhytoGen, an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences, offers cottonseed varieties with the most advanced in-plant protection options, such as WideStrike® Insect Protection, WideStrike 3, and Genuity® Roundup Ready® Flex. For more information on PhytoGen or 2015 varieties, call 800-258-3033 or go to PhytoGen.com. Join the discussion with PhytoGen on Facebook and YouTube.
About Dow AgroSciences
Dow AgroSciences, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is committed to discovering, developing, and bringing to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $7.1 billion in 2013. Learn more at www.dowagro.com. Follow Dow AgroSciences on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. ®Genuity, Roundup and Roundup Ready are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC.
®PhytoGen and the PhytoGen Logo are trademarks of PhytoGen Seed Company, LLC.
®DOW Diamond, WideStrike and the WideStrike Logo are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow.
PhytoGen Seed Company is a joint venture between Mycogen Corporation, an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences LLC, and the J.G. Boswell Company.
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