A New Standard for Seed’s Genetic Purity Assurance

The value chain of all crops ends with us enjoying a fresh salad, bread, or tomato sauce pasta, and starts with the seed’s breeder. Seeds are being sold for premium prices everyday around the world and hold great promise to everyone in the supply chain. Specifically, the growers are aware and constantly concerned that something might go wrong in the field, and unfortunately, many times things do go wrong. Nature has a way of surprising us with unexpected problems. Germination problems, health issues and impurity of the seeds are not uncommon, and ensuring the seed’s quality is of paramount importance to mankind.  In fact, enormous effort and resources are being put into assuring seed quality, as the risk for severe
damage and loss is very high.

The International Seeds Testing Association (ISTA) defines many guidelines and protocols for quality tests in germination, seed health and other physical factors. Yet, we have not found any such definitions and regulations for the testing of seed’s genetic purity. The hard truth is that while there is a strict demand to report the genetic purity of every commercial seed, there is no single standard of HOW to check this.


To address this burning need, Gene-G Applied Genetics, developed a solution that can be suggested as a new standard: A general DNA fingerprint genotyping method, based on multiple SNPs: Single-Nucleotide-Polymorphisms tests. Gene-G successfully applied this general testing protocol in several (yet most important) vegetable crops, such as Tomato, Pepper, Cucumber, Melon, Watermelon, Cannabis, and more.

Testing multiple polymorphic SNPs scattered across the genome creates a DNA-based unique fingerprint for each variety: parental or hybrid line. Through genotyping of a wide enough sample size, a most accurate assessment of the genetic purity is measured for each
seed production lot. 

Creating a unique DNA fingerprint for each sample seed holds great advantages:

1.  Accurate seed purity assurance

2.   Reduced cost and time for the seed’s purity assurance

Dozens of carefully selected SNPs,
scattered all over the genome, allows highly specific fingerprinting of any
hybrid, easily identifying off-types and true-type hybrids. All SNPs are tested
in a single-well PCR reaction, allowing a very short turnaround time from
sample to data point, and also making the multi-DNA-SNP testing method to be
far more cost-effective than the alternatives.


In the past, protein-based isozymes were used as genetic marker indicators. With the rise of DNA technologies, markers such AFLP, RFLP, SSR, and others, were adopted. Today, every seed company chooses their own testing method, and there is no agreed standard internationally, nor any clear and common methodology for testing the genetic purity of seeds.


Many seed companies will still conduct a “Grow Out” test: Growing the seeds to enable a phenotypic observation. Despite the obvious temptation to see the plant with your own eyes, the fact is that this test is far from being perfect, nor provides a guarantee for the seed purity. In many cases, genetic impurities will not be revealed in a grow out test but might appear as uniformity problems in the field of the grower, or because of uneven growing conditions. It is almost impossible to check the seeds in all the different environments that they will be facing geographically, season-wise, pest exposure, etc., and let us not forget that a grow out test takes a full season to be completed, which will delay the production.

We, at the Gene-G lab, are passionate about the seed industry and put all our efforts into creating innovative and useful solutions. Our customers are mainly crop-breeding organizations that seek out-of-the-box molecular genetics solutions to shorten the time to market. Since 2015 the Gene-G lab has been conducting purity tests, genetic marker tests, SNP fingerprinting, environmental microbiome monitoring, and unique trait development
projects, in all crops. The Gene-G team’s knowledge, experience, and open-minded approach enables it to execute unique, and sometimes complex projects, resulting in tailor-made solutions, new information, innovative protocols, and other successful outcomes. 


Contact us via info@gene-g.com to learn more about our Genetic Purity Assurance Protocol. 


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