Seed World

How Daniel Perry Ushered in a Quiet Revolution of DNA-Based Seed Testing

Germination put out the call for nominations to identify some of our industry’s most important mentors who have played a role in helping the next generation develop their skills. We had three main criteria: they be a person who’s demonstrated proven mentorship skills; they be at least 55 years of age; and they be retired from their main seed industry job. Here’s the fourth of who we selected for 2022.

Age: 61

Location: Manitoba

Known for: Helping usher in a “quiet revolution” of DNA-based seed testing

Daniel Perry, now retired from the Canadian Grain Commission as program manager for variety identification research and monitoring, worked at the forefront of a quiet revolution bringing DNA-based testing into accepted routine use.

Tasked with the practical necessities of maintaining Canada’s class-based grain quality system, his working principle that “variety gives class” meant that the same tools used in molecular breeding to create new varieties needed to be used in recognizing them after commercial release.

He developed a database of DNA fingerprints using microsatellite markers able to distinguish among historical and registered wheat and barley varieties. This classic marker size differentiation methodology has continued to work through the lifting of kernel visual distinguishability requirements, re-organization of the wheat classes, and new variety registrations.

Perry also re-created his VID database using single nucleotide polymorphism markers to work on newer OpenArray and dPCR technologies. The latter approach has been a key tool enabling bulk seed analysis of varietal blends, says Kim Kenward, R&D manager for 20/20 Seed Labs.

“Daniel set a model for reputable quality DNA-based testing on a routine basis. He passed his methodology on through scientific publication, workshops, and even one-to-one interactions in his lab. Its application in commercial testing improves quality throughout the industry,” Kenward notes.

Perry’s advice to others in the space? Have fun in your work.

“I didn’t really look at my job as work. It was fun. I loved explaining to people the practical application of genetics,” he says.
For more Mentors Who Matter visit:

How Cathy Breadner Makes People Want to be Seed Analysts

Plant Breeders! Do Your Work With a Collaborative Spirit, Says Harvey Voldeng

Never Stop Learning and Nourish Your Network, says Plant Breeding Legend Bryan Harvey