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Tracing Genes VITAL to Plant Breeding Success

Published March 12, 2021 by Christopher Leonard, President, Agronomix Software Inc.

Traceability, knowing what comes from where, is important is so many areas of business, especially in R&D. Here we consider the importance of tracing genes in a successful plant breeding process.

Why is traceability important in plant breeding?

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One big reason: patented genes. When used in breeding, proof by audit is a requirement as to what gene is used where. Its presence in a given genetic background is often a legal or contractual obligation. It determines royalty payments to the company owning the gene, and hence licensing fees will result.

Also, in the wider sense, response to selection is a big reason for the importance of traceability. Can I trace a gene that I need to include in crosses? If GMO is a factor, what crosses involved its use, and which gene from where is involved?

Seed companies never know when they might have to trace a gene. Especially in these days of seemingly tighter regulation imposed for a variety of reasons. Some perfectly legitimate and some not so much. Either way, traceability is crucial to business success.

Tracing Genes in Spreadsheets?

All too often, traceability data is stored using Excel® sheets or similar software. What does this look like? Excel is not meant for plant breeding. Therefore, not only is traceability hard to do, it is prone to error, time consuming, and extremely unpleasant to undertake. Using such improper software could lead to errors that get you sued. What makes this case worse is the fact it takes a lot more time to prove your case during an audit trial when all you have is a slew of Excel sheets to go through.

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What if you are using software designed specifically for plant breeding, like Genovix® from Agronomix Software? The whole process is a lot easier when you have the benefit of a highly relational software system. Genovix connects the presence, absence or variation of a gene as a descriptor trait to a genotype, to parents of a cross or crosses. What if you suddenly need to know all the plots where genotypes with the gene were grown? Or maybe what crosses were involved, including all descendants? With Genovix, you will know, and you will have easy access to the data.

Tracing genes is CRITICAL to Plant Breeding Success

It’s worth repeating — traceability is crucial to success in the plant breeding and seed industries. And using good software can make all the difference between being successful and not.

This article was first published on in January 2017. It was written by Dr. Dieter Mulitze, Founder and CEO of Agronomix Software. It has been edited and republished by Chris Leonard, President of Agronomix Software.

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