Carlsberg debuts new ultra-fast breeding method ‘FIND-IT’

DENMARK— Scientists at Carlsberg Research Laboratory have invented a ultra-fast, non-GMO breeding method, called ‘FIND-IT’, which helps find variants that better tolerate heat, drought or other climatic challenges.

Carlsberg says the application of the tech extends across cereal crops and other plants and bacteria that are fundamental for food production and many industrial processes.

With both rising temperatures and an estimation that the current yield increase rates of crops will not accommodate the food requirements of 9-10 billion people by 2050, there is an urgent demand to find ways to sustainably optimize the way we produce crops, notes the Carlsberg Research Laboratory.

In order to help address this, the lab, led by Prof. Birgitte Skadhauge, has invented the FIND-IT technology (Fast Identification of Nucleotide variants by droplet DigITal PCR). The lab said this new technology, which is outlined in the latest issue of Science Advances​, represents a wide-reaching and ‘ground-breaking step towards meeting the food requirements for our expanding global population, in the face of changing climatic conditions’.

“FIND-IT enables ultrafast improvement of many different types of plants, such as cereal crops, but also microbes. This includes barley, yeasts and bacterial strains that are fundamental for brewing, food production and many industrial processes.

FIND-IT enables ultrafast improvement of many different types of plants, such as cereal crops, but also microbes. This includes barley, yeasts and bacterial strains that are fundamental for brewing, food production and many industrial processes

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Moreover, FIND-IT accelerates the development process from laboratory to field evaluation and product development and has great potential for sustainable agriculture even outside the world of brewing,” says the lab.

The new resource for crop and microbe improvement provides ultrafast identification and isolation of predetermined, targeted genetic variants in a screening cycle of less than 10 days.

The importance of the tech is it could minimize time-consuming technical steps to accelerate the evolution of germplasm, which are living genetic resources such as seeds or tissues that are maintained for the purpose of animal and plant breeding, preservation, and other research uses.

Potential to secure food supply

While the Carlsberg scientists tested the method by screening variant barley libraries and successfully isolating targeted barley gene knockout lines and miRNA or promoter variants enabling functional gene analysis, they note that the potential of the technology goes well beyond this.

The authors note that in the future FIND-IT opens up new opportunities for crop improvement by providing a means to isolate traits of crops that have superior drought tolerance, water tolerance, disease resistance, and mineral use efficiency.

Once identified, the isolated variant can be bred into new improved varieties that can grow across otherwise challenged areas worldwide. 

“Thereby, FIND-IT provides a long-sought tool that will foster a green evolution enabling us, for example, to meet the food demands of the future,”  the authors noted.

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