Researchers gain access to resources

NEW PARTNERSHIP: Grains Research and Development Corporation staff met with Traitomic staff in Canberra to discuss the new partnership to improve access to novel crop genetic diversity. Pictured are: Pip Wilson, Juan Juttner, Justine Morgan and Michael Groszmann from GRDC, plus Traitomic’s Jan Gottlieb and Agnieszka Nielsen. Picture: GRAINS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Three essential ingredients for successful crop breeding are now more available than ever thanks to a new investment between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and crop trait development company Traitomic.

The ingredients – access to novel grain crop diversity, knowledge about this diversity and a method to incorporate it into elite crop varieties – will increase the speed new and improved oat and lupin varieties can be developed for Australian grain growers.

The partnership gives Australian grain breeders and pre-breeding researchers unprecedented access to massive libraries of unique genetic variants for oat and lupin.

They will be able to rapidly search and access the libraries for new specific versions of genes that drive key crop traits, like disease resistance or drought tolerance, via the Traitomic FIND-IT platform.

“Initially the partnership will enable GRDC breeding and pre-breeding research partners to access genetic libraries in elite oat and lupin cultivars to generate and identify new versions of genes related to beneficial crop traits,” GRDC genetic technologies manager (barley and coarse grains) Dr Michael Groszmann said.

Oats are an important export market for Australian grain growers, while lupins are the biggest pulse crop in the country.

“Using the Traitomic service, breeders and pre-breeders will be able to increase the pace that they can develop new oat and lupin varieties with improved performance and desirable traits,” Dr Groszmann said.

“New gene targets can be identified and provided to breeders at significantly lower cost, with a higher likelihood of success, and with greater freedom to operate than previously possible.

“It’s a really exciting development and we’re thrilled to be doing more business with non-traditional partners, in this case an international genetics services company willing to set up shop here in Australia.”

Danish-based Traitomic comprises experts and specialists experienced in plant seed and microbial strain development for the food industry.

Its resources and service provides the ability to generate and evaluate tailored versions of genes to give rise to unique traits that may not otherwise be available through wild relatives or cultivated varieties of the crop of interest.

These gene variants are non-GMO and free from regulatory constraints, allowing rapid integration and deployment through breeding programs.

“We are excited and humbled to embark on this journey with GRDC,” Traitomic commercial lead and co-founder Jan Gottlieb said.

“GRDC’s commitment to assist scientists and industry to bring beneficial traits within oats and lupin is ambitious and inspiring.

“We are confident that the acceleration our platform enables will create unprecedented momentum, benefiting both grain growers and the whole industry around both these crops.”

GRDC-Traitomic assets are available to all Australian breeders and pre-breeders to help accelerate genetics research.

Whether the project is funded by GRDC or another source, this service is available to any research group looking to improve genetic gains for the benefit of the Australian grains industry.

Information on how to access the libraries and costings will be communicated in the coming months.