Seed World

How the Genomics Space is Opening Up a World of Possibilities in Plant Breeding

Being involved in the world of genomics, Gil Ronen works with technologies that open up an entirely new world for plant breeders. That really became evident to him in 2015 when NRGene, a company he co-founded in Israel a decade ago, got involved in the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) project and began working with researchers on decoding the wheat genome.

It was a big project. At the time, decoding the wheat genome was a major challenge as it’s a highly complex crop. Work on the bread wheat genome had been in process for more than a decade. Genomics technology was capable of decoding the wheat genome and completed the work in two months, five years ahead of time.

Aside from the Green Revolution, it was perhaps one of the most significant events in the history of wheat breeding, Ronen says. Since then, NRGene has enjoyed multiple projects involving canola, lentil, mustard, beans and more.

Benjamin Kaufman is also at the forefront of the genomics revolution. As operations director for AgriPlex Genomics in Akron, Ohio, AgriPlex partnered with NRGene in 2020 to couple NRGene’s software solution for optimized genotyping with AgriPlex’s amplicon-based technology to offer the breeding community a complete end-to-end solution for low-cost genotyping.

AgriPlex’s PlexSeq technology is a proprietary genotyping platform based on the amplicon sequencing method. PlexSeq offers the ability to multiplex 50 to 3,500 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNPs, the most common DNA marker used for genotyping) in an unlimited number of samples.

SNPer, NRGene’s software tool, optimizes genotyping processes of any crop plant or farm animal. It enables the design of a SNP set, which is customized for every breeding project, allowing for lower genotyping data generation costs by up to 70%.

Genomics is becoming known as the revolutionary field of science that it is, but like all technologies, genomics platforms are impacted by regulatory and innovation hurdles that affect many other technologies, notes Kaufman. Those hurdles are influenced by many forces unique to individual societies that ultimately impact how genomics technologies can be used.

On the Feb. 23 episode of Seed Speaks, Ronen and Kaufman will join host Marc Zienkiewicz to talk about their personal journeys in genomics, why these technologies are so powerful, and what challenges exist in the genomics space and how they can be addressed to help genomics live up to its full potential.

Join us Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. CST on Seed World’s Facebook and YouTube pages or simply click the video link at the top of the page.