Neiker-Tecnalia (the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development) is carrying out research, the objective of which is to improve oil palm crops through genetic enhancement. Its Biotechnology Department is currently working on the development of the technique known as Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) with the goal of optimising the production and quality of this crop. This technique enables detecting new genes which have important characteristics, such as resistance to diseases, greater production of best quality oil and better adaptation to biotic and abiotic stress.
The research is being undertaken within the remit of the international Oil Palm Genome Project, which Neiker-Tecnalia is performing together with the International Cooperation Centre in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD), located in Montpellier, France.
The most produced and consumed
Palm oil has become, over the past decade, the largest source of vegetable oil worldwide, in terms of production and consumption. Thus, it is necessary to complement the traditional improvement of crops with new biotechnological techniques which enable important genetic enhancements of the plant. The selection and use of new varieties adapted to market demand enables a more efficient use of the resources required for the growing of oil palm crops. In this way, more sustainable plantations (requiring less water and fertiliser) are enabled and, at the same time, higher production is achieved, thus avoiding extending areas under cultivation. Moreover, molecular genetic enhancement is seen as a very efficient alternative to using transgenics, which has sparked considerable social controversy.
The goal of the Oil Palm Genome Project, in which companies from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil and Colombia are participating, is to develop molecular tools for obtaining genomic resources, such as complementary DNAs and useful genes, molecular markers and functional genet
|Contact: Amaia Portugal|