Fast-track breeding

Basil seedlings - web sized

We can offer fast-track, or marker assisted breeding, which makes use of modern DNA sequencing methods to rapidly and efficiently identify existing important genes or regions of DNA within a plant, which might be associated with a particular trait or feature, e.g., colour, disease resistance, or production of a specific chemical.

We can then screen plants in their thousands using assays developed around these markers on platforms such as the SNPline system or the 3730 DNA Analyzer, to identify plants carrying important markers. Once identified, we can cross these plants to combine useful traits and work with our science base to conduct field trials with the associated metabolite profiling and phenotypic studies.

Separately or as part of this process, we can also increase the genetic diversity of a plant by treating seeds with a chemical to introduce random base changes in the seed’s DNA. We can then screen the DNA extracted from the seedlings grown from these seeds for mutations in specific genes or DNA regions using a Fragment Analyser. This technique, known as TILLING or mutation detection, is useful for identifying changes that could affect competing traits, which may for example be limiting the yield of certain chemicals, such as oil or a medicinal compound. Selected seedlings can then be grown to maturity and analysed for the effect of the introduced mutation.

This marker assisted breeding process is much faster than conventional methods, and importantly uses non-GM techniques, so is not subject to expensive legislation and restrictions on use. Give us a ring to find out whether fast track plant breeding, or any of the steps involved might be useful for your project.

Read about how this technique was used by our academic founder CNAP to improve Artemsia annua for antimalarials.

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