Next Gen Crops
Greater precision & efficiency than ever
The potential applications for agricultural biotechnology are incredibly vast, and huge strides have been made since the first biotech crop was approved over two decades ago. The next twenty years could provide an even larger leap forward, and there are many innovative tools that will help us achieve this progress.
There are already a number of biotech crops on the market today that have been developed with the help of RNA interference (RNAi), which is one of the most cutting-edge biotech techniques currently being utilized. In brief, RNAi is a biological process in which the expression of specific genetic information can be inhibited through exposure to certain dsRNA (double stranded RNA) molecules.
In our Arctic® apples, for instance, we insert apple genes to activate the RNAi pathway, which “silences” the production of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzyme that initiates primary browning.
Whole genome sequencing is a process that allows scientists to determine the complete DNA sequence of organisms and has tremendous applications throughout biology. The ability to identify the full genomes of organisms far more quickly and efficiently than ever before means that we can better understand which gene sequences serve which functions and how they do so.
Both of our approved nonbrowning apple varieties, Arctic® Golden and Arctic® Granny, have had their full genomes sequenced, helping us confirm that we’ve made the change we’ve intended.
Genome editing tools hold perhaps the most ground-breaking potential of all the new biotech techniques. This type of genetic engineering involves DNA being changed through the use of nucleases that function as “molecular scissors” to harness an inherent mechanism in cells that facilitates the alteration.
DNA editing tools like this may be especially useful in helping to develop new traits for proof of concept testing more quickly and efficiently than ever before. This should help open the door for not just new GE crop varieties, but much sought-after traits such as salt tolerance, drought tolerance, nitrogen fixation, nutritional enhancement and much more.