Mar 9, 2012
Plant Breeding in the 21st CenturyBy Tim Hodson

Developing new flowers or improving existing varieties can be a slow and arduous task, as most plant breeders pour their heart and soul into the development of a new product.

They spend countless hours in the greenhouse (or out in the field) observing and categorizing different plants for the tiniest of changes in color, size or response time while taking copious notes about what they have seen.

Well that task may just be getting a little easier, because as the saying goes now “They’ve got an app for that!”

Phenom-Networks, a bio-informatics software company based in Israel, has developed a web-based platform for data integration used in plant breeding research.

Company co-founder Dr. Dani Zamir says strength of the new software program is that it uses simple and intuitive graphics of trends and patterns. These trends and patterns can be used to identify genetic markers ““ which can then be observed in the traits of the plant.

According to Zamir, the company’s platform is made up of two different components: a breeding data management platform and statistical analysis of biological experiments.

In an article published on digital Israeli news website, Dr. Yanive Semel, the company’s other co-founder said the program allows a breeder to collect both intellectual property from the entire lineage of a plant and use that information to compare it to what is happening in the real world.

“With our software the breeders can follow all the information that was accumulated for this specific phenotype. They have all the information about each bag of seeds: exactly where it was planted and its previous phenotypes,” he adds, “breeders can follow the entire lineage of a plant, which is very complex,” Semel said in the article.

And Phenom-Networks has developed an app based on this product for Android phones and tablets so breeders can collect their data out in the greenhouse.

The company is also working with the Plant Breeding Academy at University of California’s-Davis where the faculty is using the software for teaching breeding.

Plant breeding has always been evolutionary and revolutionary ““ so it will be interesting to see what new tools are being developed in the future to help bring new varieties to market!

Visit Phenom-Networks website for more information.

Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at [email protected]

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