Science News 06/02/2011

To generate new varieties of rice

Meiogenix holds a worldwide exclusive license from the Institut Curie and the INRA to modulate the frequency of homologous recombination in eukaryotic genomes. This technology facilitates the natural process that introduces genetic diversity in organisms allowing the generation of novel natural varieties with commercial potential and that would not be labeled as GMOs. « Besides being a good genetic model, rice is a plant that has an important impact in the worldwide food industry. Our technology can speed-up the development of new natural varieties with characteristics that may help the worldwide community facing food crisis » says Dr. Giacomo Bastianelli, CEO of Meiogenix.

Rice is the most important food crop of the developing world and the staple food of more than 3 billion people, i.e. more than half of world’s population. It provides 20 percent of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat only supplies 19 percent and maize 5 percent. The nutrient content of rice can be improved by using both traditional selective plant breeding techniques and new technologies, such as modification of the plant’s genetic code.

« Combining favorable traits in new varieties or isolating genes of interest is often hampered by the low frequency of meiotic homologous recombination in target genome regions. CIRAD sees SpiX™ both as a powerful tool to accelerate the development of new varieties and as a research tool to discover new traits. SpiX™ has the potential of enhancing recombination in the vicinity of genes of interest, thereby accelerating their transfer or isolation by conventional methods » explains Dr. Guiderdoni.

Compared to other approaches, SpiX™ technology platform uses the natural machinery of the organism to introduce diversity in the progeny. It helps nature to do better what it already does with the result of facilitating the selection of new natural varieties. Meiogenix seeks to expand the collaborations and apply its breakthrough technologies in other plants and eukaryotic organisms.

di S. C.