Col­lab­o­rat­ing ge­nomics tech for pre­ci­sion breed­ing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Education Guide -

MONASH Univer­sity Malaysia and BioGenes Tech­nolo­gies Sdn Bhd signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment (MoA) on col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search to de­velop ge­nomics tech­nolo­gies.

The MoA’s aim is to com­mer­cialise pre­ci­sion breed­ing pro­grammes for the Malaysian Arowana in­dus­try.

With the in­dus­try cur­rently fac­ing chal­lenges of fall­ing prices due to over­sup­ply, the in­te­gra­tion of the lat­est ge­nomics meth­ods with ex­ist­ing fish breed­ing strate­gies will bring forth a trans­for­ma­tion.

The arowana in­dus­try pro­duces about 300,000 arowana fish an­nu­ally for the or­na­men­tal aquar­ium trade, with an es­ti­mated value of more than RM200mil.

“We, at BioGenes, be­lieve that de­vel­op­ing and de­ploy­ing ge­nomic-based tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions will as­sist arowana breed­ers in re­duc­ing their pro­duc­tion costs,” said chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tang Kok Mun.

“It will also pro­duce arowana fish of bet­ter and more pre­cise qual­ity and con­sis­tency.”

Un­der the MoA, Monash Univer­sity Malaysia via its ge­nomics fa­cil­ity will lever­age on its ex­per­tise and re­search and devel­op­ment in­fra­struc­ture to test sam­ples and dis­cover ge­netic mark­ers that can be used to iden­tify and clas­sify arowana fish ac­cord­ing to strain, colour, pedi­gree, gen­der, and other traits con­sid­ered de­sir­able by the in­dus­try.

BioGenes Tech­nolo­gies will look at gen­er­at­ing in­dus­try­driven re­search out­puts that will have pos­i­tive com­mer­cial af­fects on the arowana in­dus­try.

They will also de­velop sev­eral tai­lored pre­ci­sion breed­ing pro­grammes to meet the spe­cific needs of in­di­vid­ual arowana breed­ers, which would in turn en­hance the ef­fi­ciency of their farm and the qual­ity of their par­tic­u­lar strain of arowana fish.

Pro­fes­sor of trop­i­cal bi­ol­ogy and head of ge­nomics at Monash Univer­sity Malaysia’s Trop­i­cal Medicine and Bi­ol­ogy Mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary Re­search Pro­gramme Dr Christo­pher Austin said that the MoA marked the start of more in­dus­try-driven re­search for the univer­sity, in ge­nomics and ef­fec­tive part­ner­ships with in­dus­try with the po­ten­tial to com­mer­cialise re­search out­puts.

“This MoA, an ex­ten­sion of the Arowana Genome Project funded by Monash Univer­sity, is a good ex­am­ple of how aca­demic re­search with pos­i­tive re­sults can be ex­tended to the ben­e­fit of a com­mer­cial sec­tor, to­gether with strong in­dus­try part­ners,” Prof Austin said.

He added that there were many ex­am­ples of good re­search work be­ing done in Malaysia, but what was of­ten miss­ing was the form­ing of ef­fec­tive part­ner­ships be­tween academia and the in­dus­try.

“By work­ing with Biogenes Tech­nolo­gies, we have a part­ner with a shared vi­sion and a set of val­ues that can help take re­search from the lab bench to the real world,” he said. “Both par­ties will learn and ben­e­fit from the col­lab­o­ra­tion as well as pro­duce pos­i­tive re­sults for the arowana in­dus­try.”

Biogenes Tech­nolo­gies Sdn Bhd spe­cialises in the devel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of ge­nomic-based tech­nolo­gies to pro­vide so­lu­tions and taps into new op­por­tu­ni­ties in both the agri­cul­ture and aqua­cul­ture sec­tors. Tech­nolo­gies be­ing de­vel­oped in­clude ge­nomics and pro­teomics test­ing, portable biosen­sor for field test­ing, an­a­lyt­ics as well as pre­ci­sion breed­ing pro­grammes.

The Monash Univer­sity Malaysia ge­nomics fa­cil­ity sup­ports over 40 ge­nomics re­search projects us­ing the lat­est next gen­er­a­tion DNA se­quenc­ing plat­forms with part­ners from Malaysia and glob­ally.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the School of Sci­ence at Monash Univer­sity Malaysia, log on to www.sci.monash.edu.my.

(From left) Tang, Dr Austin, chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of Biogenes Tech­nolo­gies Sdn Bhd Cheng Kim Sing and re­search fel­low from Monash Uni­ver­sity Malaysia Dr Gan Ming Han have joined hands to de­velop ge­nomics tech­nol­ogy for the arowana in­dus­try.

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