Agribio Group, the parent company of Fides and Oro Farms, has acquired a stake in Genetwister Technologies, a biotechnology firm based in The Netherlands. The capabilities are expected to dramatically shorten the breeding process.
Genetic traits are identified and isolated in seedlings through molecular markers and entered into a comprehensive database. Breeders could search by trait, which could be color, heat tolerance, disease resistance, growth habit, leaf size, etc. Genetwister would then select the first population of seedlings for the breeder to start making crosses.
Up until now, Genetwister had been used primarily on vegetables.As an investor, Agribio Group will have the exclusive rights to the technology for flower breeding. As part of this, Agribio Group has appointed Roger Peeters managing director of research and development. He comes from Bayer’s Nunhems Zaden and Syngenta Seeds with experience in marker-assisted breeding.
“We want to take the lead within our sector and this means having specialized, in-house expertise,” says Agribio Group’s Chief Executive Harry Kloppenburg. “Roger’s technical knowledge will form an ideal part of this.”
Peeters explains marker-assisted breeding has nothing to do with genetic modification, which is more controversial. “These techniques are based on an insight into existing DNA structures and should lead to the more rapid development of new, distinctive varieties, which will enable our growers to provide an even better service,” he says. “The success rate for our varieties will also improve.”