Partnering with Kaiima, an Israel-based plant breeding company, Beck’s is working to create better corn hybrids, faster. The collaboration follows a three year program assessing Kaiima’s EP technology in Beck’s corn germplasm.
Kaiima uses non-GMO breeding techniques to find and identify desirable genetic traits faster—though GMO traits could later be integrated. Using the plant’s own DNA, EP increases plant performance by introducing diversity in the genome. Unlike other gene editing platforms EP doesn’t target a specific gene and change it, instead it selects a number of random genes in the genome and changes them. Kaiima suggests this is beneficial for factors such as yield, where a large number of genes are responsible for the outcome.
The two companies will begin breeding activities spring 2017. Kaiima works with all major crops and plant species, though Beck’s plans to focus on corn hybrids. Potential future benefits could include better yield, tolerance to stress and reduced product development timelines.
“The creation of new genetic diversity within corn is important to everyone throughout the value chain,” says Curtis Wiltse, research manager at Beck’s. “We’re excited to continue evaluating Kaiima’s EP technology within our proprietary corn breeding program, giving our corn breeders the opportunity to find higher-yielding genetics faster.”