Global chemical company BASF and Kaiima Bio-Agritech, a genetics and breeding technology company based in Moshav Sharona, Israel, have announced a collaboration to discover novel herbicide resistance traits and develop novel new weed control systems.

The project will use Kaiima’s proprietary EP technology platform, a non-GMO breeding tool that uses a plant’s own DNA to induce novel diversity within the genome, to improve plant performance. The companies say that EP can create types of genetic modifications, such as gene duplications and translocations that are usually unattainable through other approaches. Kaiima will also use its genomics expertise to identify modifications responsible for new traits. BASF will bring its knowledge of herbicide applications and formulations to the collaboration, and will also work with Kaiima on discovery validation.    

Kevin Cook, Kaiima chief technology officer, says: “The ability to make specific edits to targeted genes has sparked industry-wide interest in implementing gene editing techniques to create novel traits. However, often the gene systems that regulate targeted traits are unknown. EP is a unique technology platform for addressing these cases because it is unconstrained by a need for specific biochemical pathway knowledge to create desired traits.”

His colleague, chief executive Rick Greubel adds: “Having already commercialised advanced weed control systems such as Clearfield, BASF is an ideal partner. BASF also possesses a leading portfolio of seed technologies that boost product efficacy and amplify production efficiency, which creates a potential pipeline of future collaboration projects.”

BASF senior vice president, global research and development crop protection Harald Rang comments: “We are constantly looking for technologies to complement our vast agronomic expertise. Kaiima has unique capabilities that will help us to identify new non-GM herbicide traits and broaden our portfolio of weed management solutions. We see our strategic partnership with Kaiima as a great opportunity to develop new herbicide solutions, helping farmers increase yield and crop quality.”