"We've taken the Brassica heat down a notch with our new varieties"

Pairwise has developed new varieties of Brassica juncea, a leafy green that is part of the same family of vegetables as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. With the genome-editing technology known as CRISPR (Clustered, Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), Pairwise has leveraged good traits of Brassica juncea such as its high nutrient density and natural resistance to pests and diminished its less-favorable traits such as its pungent flavor.

“We have taken the heat of Brassica juncea down a notch with our new varieties,” said Heather Hudson, Ph.D., head of commercial at Pairwise. “And instead, we’ve created new leafy greens that have mild, crunchy, fresh flavors.” Hudson points out that the nutrition profiles of the new greens are superior to those they could substitute for in a salad such as spinach or romaine. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently confirmed Pairwise can proceed to commercialization of its new leafy greens in the same manner as the traditionally bred varieties we have enjoyed for years. Thus, the newly created vegetables will move into field trials and ultimately be planted by growers.

“Through the field trials, we’ll work to ensure our new products yield the desired flavors and have the overall quality that we intend,” said Ryan Rapp, Ph.D., head of product discovery at Pairwise.

At the conclusion of the field trials, Pairwise will work with partners to sell seeds of their new products. Hudson said the company anticipates this milestone will be reached as early as 2022.

Source: North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

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