BASF, Israel’s Kaiima team on developing herbicide-tolerant traits

BASF Corp. and the Israeli company, Kaiima Bio-Agritech Ltd. recently announced they will be partnering on developing herbicide-tolerant non-GMO crops using the Kaiima’s proprietary EP technology platform.

Although the technology is applicable to most crops, Kaiima has focused on a handful including rice, soybeans, wheat and corn. The Israeli firm will provide its genetic expertise while BASF will offer its experience in herbicide application and formulations. The announcement did not include on which crops the technology will be used.

“Having already commercialized advanced weed control systems such as Clearfield, BASF is an ideal partner,” Rick Greubel, CEO of Kaiima, said in a news release.

EP technology, short for enhanced ploidy technology, is a way to speed the multiplication of genomes in crops without changing their DNA or genetic fingerprint. As a result, the crops are not considered GMOs or genetically modified organisms.

Plants, such as rice, are diploid with two sets of chromosomes. Ancient wheat also was diploid. Through centuries of breeding and hybridization, durum wheat used in pasta is now a tetraploid with four sets of chromosomes and bread wheat is a hexaploid with six sets of chromosomes.

Think of the sets of chromosomes as a piece of string. By adding more of the same material, it becomes a rope, which is stronger and more durable.

The same can be said about plants developed using the EP technology. They have greater genetic diversity, improved tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress, can be developed more efficiently and have improved seed production, according to a news release. Crops developed using the technology also yield up to 10 percent more.

Enhanced ploidy also can create forms of genetic modifications, such as gene duplications and translocations, that are largely unattainable through other mutagenic approaches.

The BASF announcement is the latest in a string of partnerships that involve Kaiima.

In 2016, Horizon Ag announced an agreement with Kaiima to develop new rice varieties using the Israeli firm’s EP platform. That same year, Kaiima and Beck’s announced an agreement to use the EP technology on Beck’s elite corn germplasm.


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