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What’s all this talk about Hybrid breeding and Hybrid True Potato Seeds (HTPS) revolutionizing the potato industry?

World Potato Congress  webinar with Hein Kruyt, CEO Solynta – February 20, 2020 9:00 am CET

Click here for more information and registration.

 

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_56DjN0QuQSm1MulwjtpqGw

www.potatocongress.org

 

 

Solynta appoints Edwin van der Vossen as its new R&D Director

Solynta announced today that its management board has unanimously decided to appoint Dr Edwin van der Vossen as its new Director of Research & Development. Van der Vossen will join Solynta as of March 1, 2020 and will be succeeding the current Director Dr Pim Lindhout as of May 1, 2020.

Dr van der Vossen brings over 20 years of R&D experience in plant sciences. Over the last 11 years he was part of the Management team of the crop innovation company KeyGene, heading the Crop Innovation Unit within the company. Prior to joining Keygene he served in a number of roles at Wageningen University & Research. Dr van der Vossen holds a PhD in Molecular Plant Sciences from Leiden University and a MSc in Plant Breeding from Wageningen University.

Dr Lindhout, Solynta’s current director of R&D, has decided to step back from his current position given his upcoming retirement at some point in the future. He will transition to an expert, advisor and coaching capacity within the R&D team. This change continues Lindhout’s contribution to the development of hybrid potato by Solynta in the years to come. Pim Lindhout expresses excitement; “Edwin will give an impulse to Solynta’s R&D leadership combined with a continuation of excellence. I am thrilled with Edwin joining Solynta and am looking forward to working alongside him and the team.”

“I see this as a great opportunity to contributing to potentially the biggest innovation in the breeding of one of the world’s most important food crops.” said van der Vossen. “I am looking forward to working with this talented team and hope to contribute to steering the company towards the next phase of its existence, namely the accelerated and steady development of improved and high yielding potato hybrids”.

Hein Kruyt, Solynta’s CEO stated: “I am very happy with Edwin joining us. His deep understanding of genomics and data driven science and proven ability to apply this to crop improvements combined with his interpersonal skills make me even more excited about Solynta’s future.”

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Grant of new US patent for Hybrid True Potato Seed development

Solynta today announced the grant of U.S. Patent Serial No. 10,524,436 entitled ‘Hybrid Potato Breeding’. The patent claims Solynta’s methods of producing potato inbreds and hybrids that are propagated from true
seed.

Dr. Pim Lindhout, Solynta’s Chief Scientific Officer, states that “Solynta’s innovative Hybrid True Potato Seed breeding will finally unlock the humble potato’s vast potential. Not only producing more and better food but also with a smaller ecological footprint. Together with academia and other companies we can now increase the speed of innovation needed for feeding the world in a sustainable way. The first commercial cultivars are now being tested in the market”.

Hein Kruyt, company CEO stated that “I am very excited by the grant of this patent because this now finally enables Solynta to license this innovation to others and by that broadening and speeding-up the availability of better food to the world; reducing environmental impact and fighting malnutrition. The potato market is so huge and there is such an urgent need that one company cannot cater this alone. Licensing will support successful partnerships that are crucial to achieve sustainable potato cultivations worldwide”.

Hybrid True Potato Seed (HTPS) has many advantages over the current potato supply chain practice of using last year’s potato tubers as starting material. By using HTPS farmers need only 25 grams of HTPS compared to 2,500 kilograms of potato tubers to plant a hectare of land. HTPS speeds new cultivars to market as each plant can produce 5,000 seeds per season compared to the production of only 10 new seed tubers per plant per season using the current system. This innovative development of HTPS increases phytosanitary security within the potato supply chain by producing seed free of diseases that are an ongoing issue for the current potato supply chain.
The innovation of HTPS breeding has many advantages over current the potato selection process. Using hybrid breeding potato crop improvement becomes more predictable allowing for quick insertion of naturally occurring traits including drought, pest and disease resistances. This in turn enables the reduction of pesticide use and increases the overall sustainability of the crop.

The New Times: Rwanda pilots ‘revolutionary’ potato seeds

Please click this link to read the article ‘Rwanda pilots ‘revolutionary’ potato seeds’: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/rwanda-pilots-revolutionary-potato-seeds

Solynta and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) expand collaboration

Solynta and the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) announced today an exciting expansion in their collaboration. Nutritious potatoes are both a staple and a cash crop in Rwanda and like many African countries Rwanda faces many challenges importing and storing seed tubers. Through collaboration the parties hope to bring the combination of true potato seeds and hybrids to local farmers.

True potato seeds allow for the replacement of bulky seed tubers with clean, easy to transport and store seed. Instead of using 2,500 kilos of perishable potato-tubers farmers will be able to use only 25 grams of true potato seed to plant the same area.

The application of hybrid potato will allow for a much faster breeding process allowing for the introduction of beneficial traits including disease resistance which will result in reduced usage of herbicide and pesticides.

The parties collaboration is based on a Memorandum of Understanding designed to promote their mutual interest in providing Rwandan farmers access to hybrid potato seeds.

Hein Kruyt stated that “Solynta is excited to collaborate with RAB to identify the Solynta potato hybrids that will best improve farmer productivity in Rwanda.” The agreement between Solynta and RAB reflects the parties desire to promote mutual interests through cooperation, information exchange, seed movement and science-based plant breeding on the basis of equality and mutual benefits. “Collaboration is critical to addressing global challenges to
economic and food security. We are excited to be on the forefront of this game changing innovation and look forward to continuing to work together and build a stronger future for Rwanda and the world.” said Patrick Karangwa – Director General of RAB.

The NL Agricultural Office Rwanda and Uganda played a key role in facilitating the collaboration between Solynta and RAB. The goals of increasing access to technology through public private collaboration to support sustainable agriculture and stable food supply are shared among all the parties.

Complex potato genome further unveiled

Scientists from Solynta and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have published the most complete genome sequence for potatoes to date. A unique aspect is that both sequence and plant material are made available for research (under specific conditions). This may in the future result in a potato that is more resistant to heat or drought or has a greater resistance to diseases.  

The potato is one of the most important food crops worldwide. Improvements to its traits can therefore have a major impact. Reading the genome structure of the potato is extremely tricky, however, as a regular potato consists of four genomes, which makes it difficult to determine the position of the genes. The recent research applied a diploid real potato plant with only one genomea so-called homozygote, which makes it easier to read and compare the DNA base sequence. This plant, Solyntus, was produced as part oSolynta’s hybrid potato breeding programme 

The genome sequence is available via https://www.plantbreeding.wur.nl/Solyntus.

 

From 125,000 to 185 segments
Richard Visser, professor at the department of Plant Breeding at WUR, is enthusiastic about the new sequence: “The previously available genome sequence, which I also helped establish, consisted of approximately 125,000 small segments. The genome we are presenting now comprises 185 large segments. This is a significant improvement which was achieved via a combination of unique plant material and new sequencing and analysis techniques. While the previous sequence involved a wild variety of the potato, we have now used an actual potato plant. I hope – and expect – that our work will eventually lead to a more efficient and faster potato breeding process.” 

Solynta’s R&D director Pim Lindhout is also pleased with the collaboration“This concrete result of a public-private partnership proves that we can describe and new properties faster together. Two years ago, we showed that we could make a potato plant that is disease-resistant within two years. This latest breakthrough means we can also explore and utilise other traits more quickly. I am convinced that this will lead to more sustainable potato production far sooner.”  

Faster and more focused breeding
Various research projects within WUR use both the plant and the sequenceenabling scientists to link experimental results to the genetic code. The very accurate genome sequence allows faster and more focused breeding, as it is easier to find in the DNA which cross-breeds with other varieties might be of interest, and where the exchange of genetic material between ‘father’ and ‘mother’ should ideally take place. This means scientists know at an early stage whether the potato has the desired traits, such as resistance to specific diseases.  

The research was partly financed by PepsiCo, contributing to a more sustainable food chain.  
SolyntusTM is a trademark that results from Solynta’s hybrid potato breeding programme

The Potato- from tuber to seed (University of Groningen Video)

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