Land O’Lakes has been granted a patent for high throughput methods to identify combinations of genetic mutations that can enhance a specific trait in plants. The methods involve creating plant cells with different mutations, sexually crossing them to produce a population, and then selecting individuals with improved phenotypes. The selected individuals are then genotyped to identify the specific combination of mutations responsible for the improved trait. GlobalData’s report on Land O’Lakes gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Land O'Lakes, Milk processing techniques was a key innovation area identified from patents. Land O'Lakes's grant share as of September 2023 was 53%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

High throughput method for identifying plant mutations to improve phenotype

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Land O'Lakes Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11773403B2) describes a method for identifying a combination of genetic mutations that can improve the phenotype of a plant. The method involves several steps, including selecting genomic targets for mutation, creating a plant cell with different gRNAs and a Cas9 polypeptide, sexually crossing parental plants, phenotyping the progeny population, and genotyping the selected individual to identify the beneficial genetic mutations.

The method outlined in the patent involves selecting a plurality of genomic targets for mutation, with at least four targets being preferred. The parental plants used in the method are specified as Zea mays, a type of corn. The method also includes designing gRNAs to mutate distinct residues of the same genomic target or residues within conserved sequences of paralogous genes.

The creation of a plant cell with different gRNAs and a Cas9 polypeptide can be achieved through various techniques, such as inserting gRNA-expressing transgenes or using pre-assembled gRNA-Cas9 ribonucleoproteins. The addition of a Cas9 polypeptide-expressing transgene can be done by crossing with a plant that already has the transgene.

The method involves sexually crossing a first parental plant with a second parental plant to produce a progeny population. The progeny population is then phenotyped to select an individual with an improved phenotype. The selected individual is genotyped to identify the combination of genetic mutations responsible for the improved phenotype.

The patent also mentions the possibility of repeating the steps of the method, with the selection of genomic targets being based on the presence of those targets in the selected individual. The parental plants can be related by lineage to the selected individual.

Additionally, the patent describes the method's application in making a collection of seeds, where the embryonic cells of the seeds contain the identified combination of genetic mutations. The parental plants used in the method can be selected from various species, including Zea mays, Sorghum bicolor, Triticum aestivum, and Oryza sativa.

The selection of the individual with an improved phenotype can be based on performance under field testing conditions, as well as factors like water use efficiency, nitrogen use efficiency, seed oil content, or plant density stress performance. Phenotyping the progeny population can involve using seed chipping to select a subset of individuals.

Overall, this granted patent outlines a method for identifying beneficial genetic mutations in plants, particularly Zea mays, through targeted genomic mutation and phenotypic selection. The method offers potential applications in plant breeding and seed production.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.