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Transforming Agriculture: Ohalo's Boosted Breeding Technology Explained

Courtesy: Unsplash @ Irewolede
Courtesy: Unsplash @ Irewolede

Ohalo™ has made an announcement with the discovery of Boosted Breeding™, an innovative plant breeding technology poised to transform agriculture. This advancement promises to enhance crop productivity sustainably, akin to the significant leap forward achieved by hybrid plant breeding systems in the early 20th century. Boosted Breeding has the potential to revolutionize crop yields, streamline inefficient agronomic practices, and significantly improve the adaptability and resilience of agricultural crops.


The Urgent Need for Agricultural Innovation


The global demand for food production is escalating at an unprecedented rate. According to the United Nations, food production must increase by at least 50% over the next 25 years to meet the needs of a growing population. Concurrently, crop-growing regions are shifting due to changing weather patterns, making food production more volatile. As Ohalo CEO Dave Friedberg emphasizes, "Boosted Breeding will accelerate agriculture adaptation and increase productivity, helping crops survive and thrive in new environments while reducing the cost and footprint of agriculture."


What is Boosted Breeding?


Boosted Breeding enables each parent plant to pass its entire genome to its offspring, rather than a random half. This results in offspring with an expanded genome containing all the genes from each parent, unlocking several significant benefits:


- Combining Beneficial Traits: Traditional plant breeding involves parents passing a random selection of half their genes to offspring, making the combination of beneficial traits a slow and uncertain process. Boosted plants inherit all beneficial traits from both parents, leading to immediate and substantial improvements in crop traits like disease resistance and drought tolerance.


- Increased Health and Growth: Boosted plants benefit from greater genetic diversity and novel gene networks, resulting in healthier plants that grow bigger and faster, with yield gains of 50-100%+ in early trials.


- Genetically Uniform True Seed™: For crops that are vegetatively propagated, such as potatoes, Boosted Breeding allows for scalable seed-based planting systems. True Seed™ systems reduce disease risk and are more cost-effective and time-efficient than vegetative propagation.


The Science Behind Boosted Breeding


Ohalo's discovery stems from nearly five years of research into plant reproductive biology. By altering the reproductive circuits in parent plants using proprietary proteins and processes, Ohalo has achieved an unprecedented level of precision and speed in plant breeding. This allows for the rapid development of improved crop varieties. According to Ohalo CTO Jud Ward, "We founded Ohalo on the premise that we could significantly accelerate and improve existing breeding systems and crop outcomes by changing a plant's reproductive system. This technology will eliminate many challenges agriculture faces and unleash unimaginable benefits for farmers and consumers."


Transforming Agronomic Practices


In addition to combining beneficial traits and increasing yields, Boosted Breeding enables new agronomic systems for vegetatively propagated crops. These crops are currently costly and inefficient to grow and are susceptible to significant disease risks. Boosted plants produce genetically uniform true seeds, allowing for the creation of new seed industries for crops like potatoes that are not traditionally grown from seed. Dave Friedberg elaborates, "Over the next few years, we're going to radically transform the way crops are grown, making new seed varieties commercially available for farmers. This will deliver improvements in yield, resilience, adaptability, and nutrition."


Implementation and Future Plans


Ohalo is already implementing Boosted Breeding across various crops, including potatoes, corn, and berries. The company is actively developing Boosted crop programs both internally and through partnerships with industry leaders. As the technology platform expands, Ohalo plans to extend its work into other crops and regions, accelerating the rollout of Boosted technology globally.


Overcoming Traditional Breeding Limitations


Traditional cross-breeding methods involve a random transfer of 50% of genes from each parent to their offspring, making it challenging to combine all desired traits in a single plant. Ohalo's Boosted Breeding technology ensures that both parents pass on their entire genome to their offspring, eliminating this randomness. This results in plants that contain all the beneficial traits from both parents, vastly increasing the likelihood of achieving desired characteristics.


Addressing Industry Skepticism


While some breeders may initially be skeptical of this breakthrough, Ohalo is confident that their results will speak for themselves. The company has already seen remarkable yield gains in crops like potatoes, with some plants showing yield increases of 60% to 100% or more. As more data becomes available, the agricultural industry is expected to embrace this innovative technology.


Conclusion


Ohalo's Boosted Breeding technology represents a revolutionary advancement in agriculture, offering a solution to the growing demand for food production amidst shifting environmental conditions. By enabling plants to inherit the full genome from both parents, Boosted Breeding combines beneficial traits more effectively, increases crop yields, and introduces new agronomic systems. As Ohalo continues to develop and implement this technology, the future of agriculture looks brighter, more resilient, and more sustainable.

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