Breeding company Don Mario is mounting a gene-editing lab in Brazil
Jun. 20, 2018
Buenos Aires, June 18th. Asociados Don Mario (ADM), a breeding company based at Chacabuco (Buenos Aires Province), is a global leading company developing soybean germoplasm. As they say, 20% of global soybean production is grown with ADM varieties. Its market share in South America surpass 40 percent. “We have a leading position in Latam; after increase our participation in Argentina, and the South of Brazil, now we are concluding the expansion in the North of Brazil, mainly in the Cerrados region”, explains Marcos Quiroga, Investigation Manager at Don Mario.
In dialogue with eFarmNews, Mr Quiroga reminded that was in 2006 when ADM installed its first mollecular markers lab in its headquarters in Chacabuco. A few years after, they moved it to Londrinas (Brazil) with a new investment. “When we started, we were able to obtain 40,000 data in a year. Now, we obtain 80,000 data in a day”. remarks Quiroga.
But its really strenght is Don Mario’s worldwide network of soybean field test, that provides them with valuable information about crop performance.
“We collect data from 300 sites in 15 differents countries. This is an incredible comparative advantage when we cross field information with sequencing data”, comments.
During “transgenic era”, Asociados Don Mario stay quietly as a germoplasm developer. Its varieties contained traits licensed to giant biotechnology companies.
But last year, Don Mario board started to analyze how they insert in the new “gene-editing era”. “During the transgenic years we were a little company infront an expensive technology; now we are a large company infront a cheaper technology. Its implies another approach”, explains Quiroga.
Across 2017 Don Mario conducted a prospective job on gene-editing. They arrived to the conclusion that “gene discovering” was the key in the new scenario and that they have not only the strenght of the data collection, but the germoplasm bank.
“The goal is to develop non transgenic traits to our germoplasm, but we want to conduct the gene discovering process in association mode, with public or private organization. For example, Buenos Aires University have a large expertise investigating stink bug tolerance. We are running an agreement with them. Or Embrapa in Brazil has 20 years of experience in drought resistance. Okay, this type of partnership is the way that Don Mario has chosen”, says Mr. Quiroga in the interview.
As result of the prospective work, the seed company decided to mount a gene-editing laboratory in its Londrina Investigation Center. The idea is that once discover a valuable gene, the process to convert a cell in a new plant were carried by Don Mario’s scientists. “The gene-editing lab is currently underway. We hope it was concluded before the year ends”, finalize Quiroga.
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