TMC technology shortens process to improve sugar cane

Toyota City, Japan, December 6, 2010—Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces that, based on joint development with the National Agricultural Research Center for Kyushu Okinawa Region (KONARC), TMC has created genetic-analysis technology that can substantially shorten the time needed to improve varieties of sugar cane and improve plant performance.TMC developed a high-throughput DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis technology, based on which KONARC assessed sugar cane performance and TMC worked on genetic analysis. Combining the results created the new genetic-analysis technology.

Conventional agricultural plant improvement involves selecting and crossing parent varieties based on extensive past performance data, assessing progeny over the long term, and selecting new progeny with the desired property. In place of this, a revolutionary crop-improving technology—marker-assisted breeding—uses genetic information to predict performance and has been used in breeding rice and maize. However, sugar cane's large genome size makes it difficult to genetically analyze, meaning markerassisted breeding cannot easily be applied.

In response, TMC developed its high-throughput DNA analysis technology based on DNA microarray technology* that allows highly precise, high-throughput genotyping. With its new technology, TMC successfully created a sugar-cane genetic map five times more accurate than previous maps, making it possible to identify the positions of genes and to use that information to create better sugar cane.

TMC believes the development of the new genetic-analysis technology will constitute a major step toward achieving the goal of shortening the period needed for sugar-cane improvement by 50% and expects it will lead to increased sugar-cane yield through creating sugar-cane varieties with higher sugar content and improved disease resistance. TMC and KONARC will present the new genetic-analysis technology at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan to be held in Kobe from December 7.

TMC has been developing technologies to increase crop yield with the aim of supporting the expanded use of bio-fuels. The high-throughput DNA analysis technology that forms the core of the genetic-analysis technology announced today can be applied to not only sugar cane but to other varieties of plants that have a large genome. TMC believes that its high-throughput DNA analysis technology also holds potential foodstuff-production and environmental advantages. To enable broad use of this technology, TMC plans to make information concerning it open.

*A technology being developed for, among other uses, assessing human predispositions and cancer occurrence risks