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Syngenta scientists discover way to cut seed breeding time


Syngenta researchers recently published breakthrough work that could lead to decreases in the time it takes to breed seeds. 

The paper, which was featured in the world-renowned international science journal Nature, establishes that haploid induction, a complex modern seed breeding process that helps shave years off the seed breeding process in corn, is triggered by a defect in an enzyme coded by the Matrilineal (MTL) gene. The researchers also found that novel gene edits in the MTL gene can induce haploid induction, opening up the possibility to optimize the technology and transfer it to crops other than corn.

“Successful haploid induction is an often painstaking and costly process,” said Tim Kelliher, principal scientist, reproduction biology at Syngenta and lead author of the paper, in a recent release. “But this research is an important step in showing how gene editing can help us breed plants that produce higher yields, on a much more efficient time frame.”

“We know that investment in gene editing and crop genetics can help us create significant progress toward sustainable intensification of agriculture,” said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, head of Seeds Research at Syngenta. “To be recognized by the scientific community for this work illustrates its importance to innovation in agriculture. It is a true honor and testament to the quality of our scientists.”

This work directly addresses one of the six commitments of Syngenta’s The Good Growth Plan – making crops more efficient without using more land, water, or inputs.

“Understanding the underlying biology of MTL and related genes will open a wave of innovation on our quest to find ways to feed the world more efficiently and effectively,” van Lookeren Campagne added.

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