New non-GM technology platform for genetic improvement of sunflower oilseed crop

May 14, 2013

Scientists have developed techniques for the genetic improvement of sunflowers using a non-GMO based approach. The new technology platform can harness the plant's own genes to improve characteristics of sunflower, develop genetic traits, which will improve its role as an important oilseed crop. The work was led by Dr Manash Chatterjee, an Adjunct Faculty member of Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway, and has been published in the journal BMC Plant Biology.

Among oilseed crops, sunflowers are one of the most important sources of edible vegetable oil for worldwide. Sunflower and other oilseed crops are the source of the vast majority of vegetable oil used for cooking and food processing. The oils are also for industrial processes such as making soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, paints and biofuels.

Dr Chatterjee is currently a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) ETS Walton Fellow at NUI Galway, collaborating with the SFI Genetics and Biotechnology Lab of Professor Charles Spillane. Dr Chatterjee's research uses an approach called TILLING (Targeting Induced Lesions In The Genome), an established non-GM method for creating and discovering new traits in plants.

According to Dr Chatterjee: "Over the centuries, the sunflower has been cultivated for traits such as yield. However, along the way many useful genetic variations have been lost. This new technology allows us to pinpoint key genetic information relating to various useful traits in the sunflower, including wild sunflower species. It gives us a method to quickly create variability for further breeding to enhance the quantity, quality and natural performance of the crop. In this era of increasing global and changing climatic regimes, such ability is highly desirable."

The research breakthrough was part of a collaborative project between Bench Bio (India), URGV Lab INRA (France), NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (Ireland) and Advanta Seeds Argentina. NUI Galway PhD student Anish PK Kumar has been working on the technology platform development as a component of his PhD research studies.

Dr Chatterjee is also involved in research in the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) to improve the bioenergy crop Miscanthus. Also known as elephant grass, miscanthus is one of a new generation of renewable energy crops that can be converted into renewable energy by being burned in biomass power stations.

Explore further: Heaven scent: Finding may help restore fragrance to roses

Related Stories

US a surprisingly large reservoir of crop plant diversity

Apr 29, 2013

North America isn't known as a hotspot for crop plant diversity, yet a new inventory has uncovered nearly 4,600 wild relatives of crop plants in the United States, including close relatives of globally important ...

Researchers find protein to up yield from oilseed crops

Mar 26, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at Montana State University have developed a protein that can be expressed in oilseed crops to increase the oil yield by as much as 40 percent, a development that could have an impact on the biodiesel ...

Miscanthus adapts

Jun 06, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy finds that natural populations of Miscanthus are promising candidates as second-generation energy sources because they have genetic variation that may in ...

Recommended for you

Study on pesticides in lab rat feed causes a stir

Jul 02, 2015

French scientists published evidence Thursday of pesticide contamination of lab rat feed which they said discredited historic toxicity studies, though commentators questioned the analysis.

International consortium to study plant fertility evolution

Jul 02, 2015

Mark Johnson, associate professor of biology, has joined a consortium of seven other researchers in four European countries to develop the fullest understanding yet of how fertilization evolved in flowering plants. The research, ...

Making the biofuels process safer for microbes

Jul 02, 2015

A team of investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University have created a process for making the work environment less toxic—literally—for the organisms that do the heavy ...

Why GM food is so hard to sell to a wary public

Jul 02, 2015

Whether commanding the attention of rock star Neil Young or apparently being supported by the former head of Greenpeace, genetically modified food is almost always in the news – and often in a negative ...

The hidden treasure in RNA-seq

Jul 01, 2015

Michael Stadler and his team at the Friedrich Miescher institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) have developed a novel computational approach to analyze RNA-seq data. By comparing intronic and exonic RNA reads, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.