Milestones for genetics company
Innovative Dutch plant genetic company NSure saw two significant milestones in 2016. Firstly, they celebrated 10 years since inception as a start-up company. They followed that up with the commercial release through Farmlands of the BreakNSure test for gr
After 2 years of collaboration with Zespri, scientists from NSure identified specific gene sequencing in green kiwifruit that indicated the gene switches for the start of bud break. At the molecular level, plant genes are the first to respond to changes in their environments, long before the plants transform visibly. What this means for orchardists is an ability to measure the genetic activity of buds within their orchards long before bud break, to establish whether the plant is “waking up”. By accurately determining the physiological status of their female vines growers now have the ability to “be on time” with bud break enhancers, to maximise their orchard potential.
The BreakNSure test for green kiwifruit was launched under tough conditions when the Bay of Plenty experienced a year with low winter chill. The challenging circumstances of the season gave the test a real “baptism of fire”. The results that came through showed in many instances what growers thought would be the ideal time for application of bud enhancers were significantly earlier than where the plants were genetically for the season. This gave growers a conundrum – to either follow a “gut feel based on years of growing and shift slightly” approach, or put their faith in science. A lot of growers ran with gut feel although a number used the science – some even hedged their bets and split applied hydrogen cyanimide, using both the test and experience providing quasi trial situations. What was evident was those that followed the test or split applied hydrogen cyanimide reported significant gains in the uniformity of bud break and an increase in the amount of king single flowers this season because of the test. Going forward there is now the potential for a paradigm shift to when dormancy breakers are applied through gene testing. With BreakNSure sampling buds for the triggers that determine the start of bud break, a test will become similar to soil and leaf testing for nutrition that are performed annually. With analytical services provided by Hill Laboratories and interpretation by NSure, there is an extremely short turnaround time from the test being taken and results received. This allows growers to make decisions with their orchards quickly.
NSure was formed in 2006 by molecular biologists Monique van Wordragen and Peter Balk out of one of the research institutes of Wageningen University. The company has been able to commercialise research work in next generation sequencing (the ability to examine the activity of all genes present in a plant at the same time) to provide added value to the agriculture production chain. These tests are aimed at supporting crucial decisions during cultivation and storage of various crops.
As well as the BreakNSure test for green kiwifruit, the company has developed tests such as StoreNSure for strawberries, to test whether young runner plants are ready for lifting and long-term storage. NSure is also currently pursuing the development of BreakNSure tests for cherries, grapes and apples and in 2017 is offering a test for Sun gold (G3) kiwifruit.