Seed World

Cibus Announces Successful Field Trials for Disease Tolerant Trait in Canola

Cibus announced that its first field trials have confirmed greenhouse results of a non-GMO trait that provides tolerance to white mold (Sclerotinia). This milestone represents a major step in Cibus’ mission to breed a durable resistant plant with its Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS), as well as a breakthrough for a complex challenge that GMO and traditional technologies have been unable to fully address. This trait is among Cibus’ 14 trait products that the US Department of Agriculture, under its “Am I Regulated” process, has recently ruled were not subject to regulation under 7 CFR Part 340 and instead are regulated in the same manner as traits developed using conventional breeding practices.

White mold is a fungal pathogen affecting 14-30% of canola/oil seed rape (OSR) fields annually, and potentially up to 90% as estimated by the Canola Council of Canada in 2016. White mold can reduce canola yields by 7-15%, with yield losses per infected plant being as great as 50%. White mold infects other major crops like soybean, and it is Cibus’ expectation that RTDS will enable fungal tolerance in all crops.

This fungal disease-resistant trait product is being developed to strengthen the plant’s disease defense system to protect it from fungal pathogens. A trait combatting white mold has multiple benefits, including the reduction of the carbon footprint. Less fuel is used by farmers as fewer fungicide applications are required over millions of acres, and higher yields result due to a healthier Canola/OSR plant that is less stressed by the disease.

“These field results represent an exciting breakthrough in our mission to develop products that help farmers address their greatest challenges, including difficult-to-combat fungal disease in Canola/OSR,” stated Greg Gocal, PhD, chief scientific officer, and executive vice president of Cibus. “With these successful field trials, we now have a clear path to breeding a durable, resistant plant, an achievement that has resisted decades of effort with other technologies.”

Managing fungal pathogens and creating healthier plants will be critical to achieve a more sustainable and profitable food and feed supply. These are central elements to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals STG #2 and STG #3 and Europe’s Farm to Fork Initiative.

“We consider disease tolerance a core RTDS trait area for Cibus,” said Peter Beetham, PhD, chief executive officer and president of Cibus; “These trial results are an important first step in our corporate goal of building a disease tolerance trait platform that addresses multiple different diseases across all the major crops.”