Scientists can be entrepreneurs. Ian’s dynamism and capacity to bring ideas to the project is inspiring.
Highlighting academia-industry collaborations. Engineering Meiosis and Recombination to Unlock Genetic Diversity.
Giacomo Bastianelli, co-founder & CEO of Meiogenix
Ian Henderson, Head of Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance in Plants Group at Plant Sciences
On the 25th November the first CambPlants Industrial talk took place in the Department of Plant Sciences. This innovative way of highlighting existing academia – industry collaborations was a real success with an audience of over 80 members of the Department.
Meiogenix and Plant Sciences are collaborating in order to try to elucidate the epigenetic mechanisms that control meiotic recombination in crops. The final goal is to apply these discoveries in crops such as wheat to increase their genetic diversity and accelerate plant breeding. The head-to-head between Giacomo and Ian gave the perspectives of each side of the collaboration whilst tackling one of the world’s biggest challenges, to feed the global population by 2050.
Dr Giacomo Bastianelli discussed how agricultural intensification and use of monocultures can lead to genetic erosion and highlighted how businesses have a big role in exploiting natural variation in crops. Collaborating with top research institutes to share the best know-how and to advance our technologies is crucial to overcome the challenges we face.
Dr Ian Henderson highlighted “the privilege and freedom of being at a University doing blue-skies modes of research, innovation and creativity that are hard otherwise to achieve”. However, Industrial research can broaden horizons and share goals with basic research. Business know-how and understanding of intellectual property is essential for the commercialisation of research.
This talk is part of a series showcasing existing academia – industry collaborations in the Department of Plant Sciences. The aim is to inspire researchers to explore new ways of developing their research programmes. If you have an industrial collaboration and would like to participate in the CambPlants Industrial Talks, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the project
About Genetic and Inheritance in Plants Group
One of the biggest challenges of humankind is feeding a population that is set to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Yields of maize, rice, wheat and soybean all need to increase by 60% and classical breeding has plateaued in the last few years. Recently, a series of plant breeding technologies have been developed (e.g. CAS9, Reverse Breeding, SpiX) that can accelerate plant breeding and facilitate the development of improved crops. The technologies developed by Meiogenix and University of Cambridge (Genetic and Inheritance In Plants group, led by Dr Ian Henderson) will have an impact for plant breeders and help to rapidly incorporate diverse traits of interest into elite crop varieties.
We are interested in understanding plant sexual reproduction and the processes that generate variation between generations. Specifically, we are interested in the meiotic cell division where gametes are generated with half the number of chromosomes. Using genetics and genomics we hope to understand mechanisms acting during plant heredity, how they influence species evolution and how they can be applied during crop improvement.
www.meiogenix.comMeiogenix is a biotech company based in Paris (France), whose mission is to develop state-of-the art breeding technologies to unlock the unexplored genetic diversity of organisms. Meiogenix’s technologies expand the natural biodiversity and helps developing new products to safely address global food challenges.