Much of the yield improvements in the past few decades have been due to better genetics. New methods like genetic modification have given way to gene editing and CRISPr. The next frontier might be epigenetics where the genome of the plant itself is not changed, but the expression is controlled.
Litle… “There's so much of a black box in plant genetics, especially as you go beyond the typical corn, soy and wheat that people have been working on more so. That what we really need to do is figure out where to target on the genome more effectively, so you don't have to iterate for years and years and years.”
That’s Sound Agriculture CEO Adam Litle. He calls their process gene tuning.
Litle… “Where we come in is we can actually soak a seed in a solution of targeted oligonucleotides, essentially these targeted proteins that then get taken up into the cell as it germinates, through a natural plant pathway that already exists. And then instead of cutting out the gene and blocks the expression. So think of it as just like a tuning dial on a radio. Instead of turning the thing all the way off, you can tune the volume down to like 1% or all the way up to 99%. And that tuning allows you to get a wider variety of phenotypes and outcomes.”
Litle said this could open up new possibilities for existing genetics and speed up the process of getting desired outcomes for farmers.