The premise of global food security is at the forefront of agriculture biotechnology. For many across the globe, dietary macronutrients such as proteins are often limited. In addition to the demand for protein in underdeveloped nations, there is also a significant surge in North America’s plant protein market. The North American plant protein market is largely driven by mindful dietary changes, plant-protein utilization by food and beverage manufacturers, and plant protein in livestock and pet feed. Large investments from strategic funding consortiums, including Protein Industry Canada, have positioned Canada to become a major player in the global plant protein market. According to Market Data Forecast, the global plant-based protein market is projected to reach $40.58 billion by 2025. This market must incorporate novel biotechnological approaches to biofortify commercial crops to help circumvent protein deficiency issues and meet the ever-increasing global demand.
Biotechnology and modern molecular plant breeding techniques can be effectively utilized to develop plant cultivars with increased proteins in both seeds and vegetative tissues. AgGene Inc. has developed a proprietary technology to enhance protein content in plant tissue by manipulating regulatory genes implicated in the accumulation of storage proteins. Our technology encompasses a multifaceted approach to increase protein content. Our technology targets two approaches, gene overexpression and gene knockout using MAD7 gene-editing technology.
We have identified an important gene of interest (GOI) through extensive research, which serves as a master regulator controlling the accumulation of storage proteins. We developed a genetically engineered Canola germplasm in which our GOI was overexpressed. Our engineered Canola line had increased seed protein levels ranging from 15-20% compared to control checks. Due to the potential regulatory hurdles associated with genetically modified crops (GMO), we have developed alternative routes to achieve similar improvement in protein content in plant tissues. Our research has identified two candidate genes that function as negative regulators of our GOI. When these two candidate genes are working normally in the plant, they reduce the activity and function of our GOI, in turn, limiting the amount of storage proteins that accumulate in plant tissue. Our research indicates that disabling these negative regulators will result in higher protein levels in plant tissue. We can disable the function of these candidate genes using our MAD7 gene-editing technology.
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