Productivity Traits are genetic characteristics in plants or crops that are associated with improved crop yields and/or a plant’s ability to address productivity challenges such as diseases, pests, weeds, or weather.
The Productivity Trait Business is like the Crop Protection Chemical Business except the trait business uses genetics to protect the crop as opposed to chemicals. In each case, the price paid for the product is commensurate with the yield improvement or cost savings to the farmer.
Productivity Traits are genetic traits in seeds that make farmers more productive and are the principal objective of seed company breeding programs. Their role is to increase yields or help the farmers manage the many productivity challenges and costs of farming such as weeds, pests, diseases, or environmental challenges such as wind, drought, or heat. The fundamental need for new Productivity Traits is central to the movement for a more sustainable food supply chain.
Cibus is part of the revolution in breeding called Precision Gene Editing. It is a technological breakthrough in trait development that provides the ability to make genetic changes in a plant that are indistinguishable from conventional breeding or nature in a timebound and predictable manner.
Gene editing technologies such as Cibus’ RTDS technologies and the Trait Machine represents a scale change in trait development that is similar in scale to major technological breakthroughs in other industries such as analogue to digital technologies, transistors, electricity, automobiles, catalytic convertors, or digital photography. In this case, the ability to develop and efficiently deliver complex traits at a fraction of the time and cost of conventional breeding systems.
Cibus’ Trait Machine is a model of the new trait development industry. It is the industry’s first end-to-end gene editing facility. The Trait Machine transforms trait development from a lengthy and random conventional breeding process to a timebound and predictable scientific process. It exponentially changes the time involved in trait development and trait production.
Importantly, the Trait Machine is not intended to be a disruptive technology. Cibus’ customers are the seed companies. We are not a seed company. Our business is to work with the seed companies’ large breeding organizations to fill an important role in their supply chain: to develop and deliver complex traits in their elite germplasm that can improve the productivity of their seeds. The Trait Machine model is central to our vision for the future of breeding:
“High throughput gene editing systems operating as extensions of large breeding operations.”
The Trait Machine has been central in the development of our initial six traits. It will also be central in the further development of our pipeline both to address the major challenges presented by our changing environmental conditions but also to develop a new industry of sustainable ingredients.
Our Trait pipeline is reflective of our strategic goal to focus on the five major crops and the five key target areas for Productivity Traits: Fungal Disease, Weeds, Pests, Nutrient Use Efficiency and Agronomy. As the environment changes, these are all areas of critical need in addressing farming productivity in our changing environment.
Below is a crop-by-crop summary of our current pipeline, where each of our initial traits are expected to be offered, especially in our initial 3 crops: Canola, Rice and Soybean. In addition, we provide some background on areas of future interest on a crop-by crop basis.
Click each crop to view its specific crop traits.
Canola was the first crop for which we successfully implemented our RTDS breeding platform and the Trait Machine Process. Because of this, breakthrough, Canola is the first crop for which we already have built an integrated family of Productivity Traits for a single crop platform. Our first trait, Pod Shatter Reduction is developed and has begun transferring to customers. Three other traits in the Canola pipeline for disease, herbicide tolerance and nutrient use efficiency are in advanced development.
Canola/Oilseed Rape is an approximately 46-million-acre market that is split between North America, Europe and Australia.
|Canola Market (Acres)
*USDA & FAO 5-year crop mean
2015-2019. Published 2021
Our traits for Pod Shatter Reduction, herbicide tolerance, and disease resistance in our Canola pipeline have been filed and cleared by the USDA APHIS “Am I Regulated” process (https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/biotechnology/am-i-regulated) and will be regulated in the US as products from traditional breeding. The successful development and transfer of these first traits to our customers, the first of which occurred in Q1 2023, as described below, will be an important milestone in the gene editing industry. It will also be a major commercial milestone in the growth of Cibus.
Pod Shatter Reduction (PSR) - Transferring
PSR is our lead Cibus Powered™ trait product. We made the first transfers of a customer’s elite germplasm with the edited PSR trait in Q1 2023. We expect to transfer the PSR Trait in the elite germplasm to up to 6 companies in 2023.
We have initiated editing our herbicide resistance trait in Canola (HT2) with greenhouse trait confirmation ongoing.
We are very encouraged by our initial field trials for our initial mode of action for Sclerotinia (white mold) resistance in Canola and winter oilseed rape. Green house trait confirmation and field work for the additional modes of action are ongoing. This trait is particularly important because, if successful, we believe it will be the first commercially available gene edited trait for disease in any crop.
Nutrient Use Efficiency
We have licensed in initial traits for nitrogen use efficiency in Canola and we expect to initiate the editing process in Canola by the end of 2023.