Durham, NC, December 11, 2020 – Elo Life Systems, a technology driven food and agriculture company headquartered in Durham, N.C., today announced publication of the most comprehensive genome sequence of commercial vanilla species to date. The data, which Elo developed with scientists at the Tropical Research and Extension Center (TREC) at the University of Florida, was published today in Nature Food.
The chromosome-level, high-resolution genomic sequence of the vanilla plant provides a blueprint for improved climate resilience, higher yields, and better flavor. It also introduces groundbreaking approaches to producing vanilla pods with significantly reduced manual labor.
Vanilla is the world’s most popular flavor with a wide array of uses in the consumer products industry. Farmers in Madagascar produce more than 80% of the global supply of the spice, which has a projected annual value of $4.3 billion by 2025 according to Acumen Research and Consulting (2019).
Over the centuries, the vanilla supply chain has been plagued by a multitude of challenges that include a lack of innovation, fluctuating yields and price volatility, fungal disease and other productivity issues. These factors threaten the viability and profitability of the crop and the livelihoods of the farmers who grow it.
To encourage innovation in the vanilla industry, Elo has published the data in Nature Food, a highly regarded journal in food and agriculture. “Our multi-crop expertise and suite of genomics-based technologies are well-placed to address intractable global challenges like sustainable vanilla production,” said Elo’s CEO, Fayaz Khazi, Ph.D. “This is the first significant step towards improving the livelihoods of small-holder farmers in vanilla producing regions.”
Elo sequenced the vanilla genome as part of a strategic partnership with Alan Chambers, Ph.D., of the Tropical Research and Extension Center (TREC) at the University of Florida. “This is a major milestone,” Chambers said. “Our work has the potential to unlock opportunities for improving vanilla production and provides a blueprint for addressing the most critical factors threatening the viability of the vanilla supply chain.”
“The genomic determinants of key traits identified through Elo’s computational biology pipeline will be used to improve vanilla productivity and build resiliency to climate change,” Khazi added. “They have the potential to fundamentally redefine the vanilla supply chain.”
The Nature Food article, titled “A phased Vanilla planifolia genome enables genetic improvement of flavor and production” is now available online (https://www.nature.com/natfood/).
Elo’s mission is to create novel products that improve the nutrition and diversity of the global food supply. The company partners with food system stakeholders to bridge gaps that impact productivity, nutritional demand, food security, climate resilience, and human wellness.
Elo currently is working with the Dole Food Company to grow disease resistant bananas, and with other partners in the food and beverage industry to develop a natural zero-calorie sweetener from watermelon. Its Brisbane, Australia subsidiary is using gene-editing technology to create climate-smart plants with improved protein and nutritional profiles. Elo is also collaborating with Ashland Inc. subsidiary, Avoca, in North Carolina on the production of natural and sustainable fragrances.
Elo Life Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Precision BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: DTIL). To learn more about the company, please visit www.elolife.ag.
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