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.
Based 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.
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.
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.