French Biotech and Cambridge to improve Food Security with UK Grant

wheat meiogenix spix epigenetics cambridge bbrsc

Meiogenix and the University of Cambridge will get fresh money to investigate how epigenomics impacts crop diversity – and how it can be engineered for better yields of wheat.

meiogenix_spix_crop_diversity_epigeneticsBased in Paris, Meiogenix is developing breeding technologies – which already caught the eye of Bayer Crop Science.

One of its platforms is SpiX, which increases the amount of meiotic recombination – including in more conserved genes (‘cold regions’).

Meiogenix will now collaborate with the University of Cambridge, where a group lead by Ian Henderson has studied these cold regions in a model plant (A. thaliana).

The research has shown that meiotic recombination is partly controlled by epigenetics.

Fig 1: Recombination hot spots in the genome are influenced by epigenetic factors like acetylation and phosphorylation.

If these control mechanisms could be engineered, it would unlock a new tool to increase crop diversity and improve plant breeding – a major challenge as classical breeding has reached its limits.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBRSC) has awarded a grant to the combination of SpiX with epigenetics, and expects that this could bring a better strain of wheat – the most important food crop.

Research focus of BBRSC. (Source: BBRSC)

BBSRC is a leading funder for non-medical biosciences, investing in projects like synthetic biology and CRISPR crops

Crop research does seem big right now, with new spin-offs and millions of investment pouring in.


Figure 1 credit: Petes (2001) Meiotic recombination hot spots and cold spots. Nature Reviews Genetics (doi: 10.1038/35072078)

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