What are New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs)

NPBTs are innovative tools that enable plant breeders to develop novel plant varieties that may provide solutions for environmental and food quality as well as food supply challenges.

Conventional plant breeding generally relies on techniques of which the outcome is difficult to predict, requiring between seven and twenty-five years, depending on the species, to generate the desired characteristics and to introduce these into stable and uniform new plant varieties.

NPBTs allow the plant breeding industry to produce plant varieties in a similar – but more precise – manner compared to conventional breeding techniques, in a significantly shorter timeframe.

The precise increase in speed depends on the species of plant, the desired property and in some cases, the technique used. For example, scab-resistant apples have been produced by use of cisgenesis in approximately 12 years, compared to an exceptionally long period of 50 years with conventional breeding techniques. A rough estimate is that NBTs decrease the breeding timeframe by 50%.

It can be anticipated that, as science on NPBTs progress and breeders start practically using these techniques, further refinements and efficiencies will be found, which will lead to an additional reduction of the plant breeding lead time.

Since research into novel techniques of plant breeding is ongoing and evolving continuously, there is no finite set of NBTs and future techniques may be put under the same ‘umbrella term’. The NBT Platform has chosen to focus on the seven principal NBTs as proposed by the EU Competent Authorities to the New Techniques Working Group[1], as well as by the Joint Research Commission in their respective reports on NBTs[2].

These seven techniques are:

  1. Site-Directed Nucleases (SDN) (as representative of a growing group of related techniques including amongst others Zinc Finger Nuclease-1/2/3, TALENs, Meganucleases and CRISPR systems)
  2. Oligonucleotide Directed Mutagenesis (ODM)
  3. Cisgenesis
  4. RNA-dependent DNA methylation (RdDM)
  5. Grafting (non-GM scion on GM rootstock)
  6. Reverse breeding
  7. Agro-infiltration (Agro-infiltration ‘sensu stricto’, Agro-inoculation)

By developing and implementing a set of NPBTs, CHIC project will adapt the biosynthesis and architecture of root chicory. This will strengthen chicory as a production system for high-quality dietary fibres and establish it as a source of bioactive terpenes.

NPBTs are of utmost importance for plant breeders in Europe, as they provide them with a ‘toolbox’ of innovative plant breeding methods alongside the traditional methods, which allow them to remain globally competitive. Most of the world’s research on NPBTs was done in Europe, totalling to almost 46% of research published up to 2011[3].

[1] New Techniques Working Group. (2011). New Techniques Working Group Final Report. New Techniques Working Group/European Commission.

[2] JRC/IPTS/IHCS. (2011). New plant breeding techniques. State-of-the-art and prospects for commercial development. Luxembourg: Publications office of the European Union.

[3] JRC/IPTS/IHCS. (2011). New plant breeding techniques. State-of-the-art and prospects for commercial development. Luxembourg: Publications office of the European Union; page  30, Table 1.

Source: http://www.nbtplatform.org/frequently-asked-questions

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Are you wondering why this European project is called CHIC?

CHIC is the Chicory Innovation Consortium.

Its objective is:

  1. to implement New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) in chicory in order to establish it as a multipurpose crop for the production of health-related products with clear benefits for consumers, and
  2.  to develop co-innovation pathways with stakeholders for game-changing technologies, such as NPBTs.

CHIC will develop four different NPBTs.

They will be used to steer bioprocesses in chicory and mobilize its under-explored potential to produce immunomodulatory prebiotics and medicinal terpenes.

The conceptually different NPBTs will be assessed with respect to technological potential, risks, regulatory framework and their socio-economic impacts. This will be done in close consultation with a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) composed of relevant stakeholders in industry and society.

Ongoing project activities and results will be discussed with stakeholders and communicated to the  interested public using innovative methods including cultural communication and linking art to science.

In this context, CHIC will develop two business cases in different application areas:

  • inulin as a healthy food ingredient and
  • terpenes as medicinal lead compounds

This effort requires a highly interdisciplinary approach with expertise from molecular sciences, economy, arts, social sciences & humanities, and legislation.

The partnership includes three SMEs and a chicory end-user, and international collaboration is established via a research institute in New Zealand.

The SAG plays a crucial role in consultation in all phases and activities of the project. Via this co-innovation approach, we aim to contribute to leadership in responsible research innovation and to promote improved understanding of plant biotechnology.

Chicory will be boosted as a robust multipurpose crop, tolerant to adverse environmental conditions from which bioactive compounds can be extracted, contributing to sustainable agriculture and a biobased economy.

What is CHIC project?

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Postdoctoral position available at Lille University

A postdoctoral position is available in the group Evolutionary genomics of plant mating systems of the Evolution, Ecology, and Paleontology laboratory of the Lille University, directed by Prof Dr Xavier Vekemans.

Within the group, the Asteraceae self-incompatibility team, headed by Prof Dr Theo Hendriks and Dr Marie-Christine Quillet, studies the molecular-genetic mechanism underlying sporophytic self-incompatibility (SSI) in Asteraceae, using chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) as a model. In SSI pollen tube germination of pollen from the same plant is inhibited as the result of the recognition of self-pollen by the stigma. In chicory, SSI is under genetic control of a single multi-allelic locus, the S-locus, harboring genes encoding the stigma and pollen determinants involved in the recognition. Genetic, genomic, transcriptomic, and population genetic analyses have allowed the identification of an S-locus candidate gene for the stigma determinant, and similar approaches to identify a candidate gene for the pollen determinant are in progress.

The major task of the successful applicant is to validate the role of S-locus candidate genes in chicory by complementation and knock-out strategies.

The project is part of a work-package in the EU H2020 project CHIC (2018-2023) that aims to develop chicory as a multipurpose crop for dietary fibre and medicinal terpenes using new plant breeding techniques and in which the development of self-compatible chicory is an important step.

The successful applicant will be member of a multi-disciplinary team consisting of molecular and population geneticists and evolutionary biologists.

What we ask for

– A PhD in molecular biology or molecular genetics
– Experience and practical skills in plant in vitro culture techniques
– Experience in the application of a range of molecular biology methods, ideally including genetic transformation techniques in non-model plants
– Ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
– Ability to communicate effectively with team members and collaborators (French and English)

What we offer

– A fixed-term position for two years, with the possibility of a one year extension.
– Salary will commensurate with experience and includes full social benefits.
– Excellent laboratory and greenhouse facilities
– Stimulating scientific environment with colleagues having longstanding experience in SSI in Brassiceae and other mating systems (androdioecy, gynodioecy)

Interested candidates should send a CV, a cover letter describing research experience and interests, and contact information for at least two references to: theo.hendriks@univ-lille1.fr

 

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CHIC kick-off meeting in Brussels

On February 6th and 7th 2018, several representatives from the CHIC consortium attended the Kick Off Meeting held in Brussels.

The meeting successfully served to set the guidelines of the project, meet with other consortium partners and stakeholders representatives.

CHIC is a research and innovation project supported through the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme.

The €7.3 million project supports the establishment of a responsible innovation pathway for the development and application of New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) for chicory as a multipurpose crop for the production of high value consumer products, in line with societal needs and concerns.

The consortium includes SMEs, an industrial partner, non-profit organizations and research institutes from 11 European countries and one from New Zealand.

 

 

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Launch of the CHIC project: Chicory as a multipurpose crop for dietary fibre and medicinal terpenes

CHIC is a research and innovation project supported through the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme.

The €7.3 million project supports the establishment of a responsible innovation pathway for the development and application of New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) for chicory as a multipurpose crop for the production of high value consumer products, in line with societal needs and concerns.

The consortium includes SMEs, an industrial partner, non-profit organizations and research institutes from 11 European countries and one from New Zealand.

Root chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is an under-utilized crop. It is currently used for the commercial production of inulin, which is added to many food products as a dietary fibre and sweetener.

The CHIC project aims to develop chicory varieties that can be used to produce dietary fibre with enhanced prebiotic effects to promote gut health. At the same time, given its biosynthetic capacity, high yields and low agronomic requirements, chicory has significant potential as a versatile production host in molecular farming for the production of many additional health-related products with benefits for consumers. CHIC also aims to harness this potential to cultivate chicory for the extraction of other types of health-related compounds (terpenes) as potential lead molecules for drug development.

To achieve this, new chicory varieties must be developed. However, chicory breeding is currently exceptionally time-consuming. Since it is an obligatory outcrossing species, no true varieties can be obtained, and germplasm is maintained by in vitro propagation.

Therefore, chicory is a highly relevant case where new plant breeding technologies (considered in the NPBT set)* can make a real difference.

Some EU member states and stakeholder groups are increasingly concerned about the impact of these technologies on the safety of its daily food and the integrity of the environment. Moreover, a clear EU regulation or policy on new plant breeding technologies is still pending. This has led to a situation where the industry is hesitant to adopt novel developments, and potentially beneficial innovations do not reach consumers.

CHIC explores the interactions between technological potential and societal acceptance of modern plant breeding

By developing and implementing a set of new plant breeding technologies, CHIC will adapt the biosynthesis and architecture of root chicory. This will strengthen chicory as a production system for high-quality dietary fibres and establish it as source of bioactive terpenes.

The consortium will evaluate the technological performance of these new plant breeding technologies, as well as the safety, environmental, regulatory, socio-economic and broader societal issues associated with them.

CHIC will strive to ensure responsible innovation and to raise public awareness by involving stakeholders and considering their needs and concerns in all phases of the project.

(*) http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/gmo/modern_biotech_en and http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC63971.pdf

Participants

The CHIC consortium consists of 17 participants from 11 European countries and one international participant:

Research institutes

  Wageningen University & Research
Wageningen University and Wageningen Research
(Netherlands)
-Project Coordinator-
 

www.wur.eu

 

  Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille

(France)

 

http://eep.univ-lille.fr/

   

Leibniz – Institut fur Pflanzenbiochemie
(Germany)

 

www.ipb-halle.de/en/

   

The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited
(New Zealand)

 

www.plantandfood.co.nz/

  Fondazione Edmund Mach

(Italy)

 

www.fmach.it/

 

  Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy

(Finland)

 

 

www.vtt.fi/

  Institut za Biološka istraživanja “Siniša Stanković

(Serbia)

 

www.ibiss.bg.ac.rs/index.php/sr-yu/

  Julius Kuhn-Institut Bundesforschungsinstitut fur Kulturpflanzen
(Germany)
 

www.julius-kuehn.de/

   

Graz University of Technology

(Austria)

www.tugraz.at

   

JOANNEUM RESEARCH  Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (Austria)

 

www.joanneum.at

SMEs

  iBET – Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica (Portugal)  

www.ibet.pt

 

 

   

KeyGene

(Netherlands)

 

www.keygene.com/

   

IDConsortium

(Spain)

 

www.idconsortium.es

Large industry

Sensus b.v.
(Netherlands)
www.inspiredbyinulin.com/

Other private and public non-profit organizations

   

Fundacja: Art & Science Synergy Foundation

(Poland)

 

www.artscience-node.com

  European Plant Science Organization, E.P.S.O. 

(Belgium)

 

 

www.epsoweb.org/

Programme: H2020, Call BIOTEC07-2017 New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBT) in molecular farming: Multipurpose crops for industrial bioproducts

Project full name: Chicory as a multipurpose crop for dietary fibre and medicinal terpenes

Acronym: CHIC

Duration: 54 months

Total budget:  7.3 million

Consortium: 17 participants from 11 European countries and one from New Zealand. Participants represent three SMEs and one large industrial partner, 11 academic participants and two non-profit organizations

Website: www.chicproject.eu

For more information, please contact: 

CHIC coordinator: Dirk Bosch dirk.bosch@wur.nl

CHIC dissemination and communication manager: Macarena Sanz msanz@idconsortium.es

 

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