Israeli Company Aims to Speed Genetic Enhancements for Crops

December 14, 2016 09:32 AM
 
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Israeli Company Kaiima Aims to Speed Genetic Enhancements for Crops

Using non-GMO technology, Kaiima’s EP platform helps plant breeders find and identify desirable genetic traits faster. The Israel-based company was founded in 2007 and works with major row crops.

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EP introduces diversity within a plant’s individual genome by identifying desirable traits from seed provided by germplasm partners. Currently, the group is focusing on increasing yield, but it will add disease and stress tolerances in the near future.

“We perform a treatment that introduces changes in the genome of the plant and then select plants that have been improved,” says Kevin Cook, chief technology officer. “In a predicable percentage of tests, we show 8% to 10% yield improvements.”

He says EP is different than other gene-editing platforms because instead of targeting a specific gene and changing it, the technology selects a number of random genes in the genome and changes them. Because yield is affected by multiple genes, he says the large selection could be a benefit.

Kaiima’s biggest focus thus far has been in corn, but it has recently expanded into soybeans and the EP platform can be used in other crops. Some of the first enhancements the company worked on are moving toward commercialization in China, with additional material working toward commercialization in the U.S.

While the seed products they help create are non-GMO, seed partners do have the opportunity to backcross GMO traits into the end products. 

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