HudsonAlpha opens new 14,000-square-foot education facility

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Governor Kay Ivey gave remarks and participated in a ribbon cutting for the HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science & Sustainable Agricultures Greenhouse and Educational Learning Labs Wednesday. (Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager)

Gov. Kay Ivey made her way to Huntsville Wednesday to visit HudsonAlpha and see the opening of the institute’s new 14,000-square-foot education facility.

The facility allows HudsonAlpha and other community partners — like Alabama A&M University and Auburn University — to work together on genomics-enabled projects for varieties of new crops.

The newest addition to the HudsonAlpha campus

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HudsonAlpha’s Greenhouse and Educational Learning Labs is the newest addition to the non-profit institute’s biotech campus. (Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager)

HudsonAlpha’s Greenhouse and Educational Learning Labs is the newest addition to the non-profit Institute’s biotech campus and is the only one of its kind in the U.S.

In its most basic sense, simply opening this facility is tremendously exciting for us because of what this building represents. Within these walls, scientific discoveries will unlock solutions to feed, fuel and clothe our world.”

Neil Lamb, PhD, HudsonAlpha President

The new facility includes top-of-the-line molecular laboratories and cutting edge technological features to help researchers in the HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture (Plant Center) advance their mission of using genomics to help sustainably feed and fuel our planet and serve as a living teaching lab for Institute faculty and students.

The facility is equipped with two lab spaces, seven grow rooms with 15-foot ceilings and technological advancements that make it a transformative research and teaching facility. Research in the facility will focus on advancing sustainability in a variety of crops, maximizing fuel production from plant biomass, reducing fertilizer use and reducing or eliminating fungicides to increase crop yields.

The next phase of the facility will be to install a demonstration garden to showcase advancements in crop improvement.

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The 14,000 square foot greenhouse will help HudsonAlpha and Alabama partners make discoveries in plant science and translate these discoveries into applications. The facility will also serve as an education lab to attract and inspire the next generation of plant scientists. (Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager)

‘New economic opportunities for our state’

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Governor Kay Ivey said this new addition to the HudsonAlpha campus will make a significant impact to Alabama. (Governor’s Office/Hal Yeager)

At the ribbon cutting, Gov. Ivey emphasized the importance of the Institute’s work and continued growth.

“For years, HudsonAlpha has been working with Alabama farmers to improve their crops and to make their land sustainable for future generations. The people working in this one-of-a-kind facility will use the power of genomics to strengthen Alabama agriculture, build an ag-focused workforce, and create new economic opportunities for our state.”

Gov. Kay Ivey

With this opening, HudsonAlpha’s Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture will add significant lab and greenhouse space to propagate and grow research plants to improve existing crops, develop new uses for plants, lead more large-scale collaborations and develop low cost tools and genomic sequencing to link plant genes.

Some quick facts about the new facility

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The new facility includes 14,000 square feet of research and crop breeding space in state-of-the-art greenhouse and laboratory facilities. (HudsonAlpha)

Here are few quick facts about the Greenhouse and Educational Learning Labs:

  • 14,000 square feet of research and crop breeding space in state-of-the-art greenhouse and laboratory facilities
  • Home to key agriculture education/workforce development initiatives led by HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team
  • 15 acre site package
  • 4 acres of crop breeding fields
  • 528 cubic yards of concrete
  • 31 tons of steel
  • The areas below will now have the infrastructure necessary to make significant strides for agriculture in Alabama and beyond.
    • Understanding the function of plant genes: HudsonAlpha is developing tools to understand the unknown roles of the genes important for sustainable agricultural practices.
    • Using genomic sequencing to link plant genes and plant features: HudsonAlpha is implementing and improving low cost tools that can be applied across a broad range of crop plants with the goal to identify which genes could be targets for crop improvement.
    • Analyzing and comparing plant genomic data: HudsonAlpha scientists use high performance supercomputers to analyze and compare genomic sequences with data about the actual function of plant genes and traits. This analysis will result in better understanding of how plants interact with their environments.
    • Plant improvement: By combining the knowledge generated from other research focus areas, HudsonAlpha scientists can identify key genes related to important crop traits and use accelerated breeding techniques to advance more high yielding crops.
    • Crop improvement: Because many crops that are grown in Alabama were not originally bred for the Alabama climate and soil, they do not flourish as well as they do elsewhere in the country. HudsonAlpha, in partnership with Alabama universities, farmers and agribusinesses are using the power of genomics and plant breeding to introduce new, improved agricultural crops for Alabama plant features.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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