Japan: NRGene and Toyota to develop strawberry varieties for local production

NRGene and Toyota announced the decoding of a leading commercial strawberry genome, a key milestone in the development of high-quality, locally-produced fruits for the Japanese market. The combination of NRGene’s assembly of the strawberry genome and Toyota’s GRAS-Di DNA analysis technology will enhance the development of natural strawberry varieties better suited to the Japanese market.

NRGene’s DeNovoMAGICTM 3.0 genomic big-data artificial intelligence (AI) tool is being used to develop the first high-quality, comprehensive genome assemblies of complicated food genomes, including wheat, potato, and shrimp. Strawberries have one of the most complex genomes ever assembled, as they encompass eight copies of every gene (by comparison, humans have just two copies). Assembling the strawberry genome could increase natural breeding efficiency and lead to the development of more productive varieties.

“As global demand for food continues to rise, we enthusiastically support any project that improves food security and quality, and reduces the environmental footprint of crop production,” said Dr. Gil Ronen, President & Founder of NRGene. “We are grateful that Toyota has chosen our big data genome assembly tools to help breed new varieties of locally-grown food. This approach has the potential to be an economical and sustainable alternative to importing strawberries – a key horticultural product with one of the largest markets in Japan.”

In addition to its core business of making cars, Toyota has been working since 1999 to enrich communities through a range of business initiatives that positively impact the environment. Prominent examples include plant improvement techniques to identify disease-resistant sugar cane genes and analysis of the strawberry genome. With the world now facing an aging farming population and declining food self-sufficiency, Toyota is pursuing projects with NRGene to further support and encourage the development of the agricultural industry.

“We were most satisfied by the ability of NRGene’s genome assembly to support our genomics-based, molecular breeding of strawberries,” said Dr. Hiroyuki Enoki, Group Manager for Toyota. “We look forward to furthering our collaboration with NRGene to meet this and other plant breeding goals.”

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