Brassica plants, including oilseed rape, use a pod-shattering mechanism (dehiscence) to disperse their seeds.
This is a huge problem in the agriculture industry where prior to harvest a 10-25% loss of seeds can occur due to this process, causing both a reduction in harvest and the seeds to contaminate the next crop cycle.
Syngenta is currently trialling two oilseed rape lines developed in Prof Østergaard’s laboratory offering impaired dehiscence, with the aim of developing them into a commercial product.
The origin of these lines can be traced back to 2010 when synergy between the Sablowski and Østergaard labs identified that the synthesis of gibberellin (GA), a plant hormone that stimulates stem elongation, germination, and flowering, promotes fruit dehiscence in Arabidopsis.
Translation of this finding to impair dehiscence in oilseed rape continued in the Østergaard lab with funding from the GRO ISP and a Follow-on Fund (jointly with PBL). Two Brassica napus lines, with different mutations that prevent the biosynthesis of GA, were established through the exploitation of the John Innes Centre B. napus TILLING resource.