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The first collaboration between Batresides and the Volcanic Institute will enable the development of allergen-free peanuts through genetic editing

The cooperation of Betresides with the Volcanic Institute is also intended for the development of healthier peanut varieties, extending the shelf life at the end of the harvest and adapting them to a more efficient mechanized picking

Dr. Ran Hovav in a peanut field. Courtesy of the Volcanic Institute
Dr. Ran Hovav in a peanut field. Courtesy of the Volcanic Institute

BetterSeeds, the Agritech company, which genetically improves agricultural crops by using a unique genetic editing technology it has developed, and the Volcani Institute, the largest institution in Israel engaged in agricultural research, through Dr. Ran Hovav, the leading peanut researcher and geneticist, announce a new collaboration in the development of peanut varieties with traits improved. Peanuts are one of the most common crops in the food industry, and have high nutritional qualities, which causes an increase in demand for them worldwide. The peanut market generates over 80 billion dollars a year, and is expected to cross the 100 billion mark by the end of the decade. The leading countries in the cultivation of peanuts in the world are China, India, the USA and Nigeria.

One of the nutritional properties that the team of Batresides researchers are working on as part of the collaboration is the development of peanut varieties without allergens. 3% of the world's children suffer from a peanut allergy, which is sometimes considered life-threatening. Through genetic editing of the genes that express these allergens, the main problem in the peanut industry and the main obstacle to its growth will be solved. This development will change the lives of children and parents around the world.

Peanuts have a relatively short shelf life after harvesting due to the plant's fatty acid composition, which causes rapid oxidation of the product. To avoid this phenomenon, the peanuts go through a process of processing to prevent the oxidation process, which causes a significant decrease in their quality. In addition, the current fatty acid composition of peanuts prevents the peanut oil from dissolving effectively in the product, making it difficult to develop peanut-based products.

In order to overcome these obstacles, within the framework of the collaboration using genomic editing technology, the composition of the fatty acids in peanuts will be changed, which will allow for a longer shelf life, and will make the peanut products uniform.

Today, the structure of the peanut plant and the uneven appearance of its pods reduce the efficiency and quality of the harvest, when the farmer may lose tens of percent of the crop because of this. As part of the collaboration and through genomic editing, the architecture of the plant and the uniformity of the appearance of its pods will be adjusted so that it is adapted to an efficient and higher quality mechanized harvest.

BetterSeeds, which is one of the portfolio companies of the Smart Agro Fund, proves that improved genetics in agricultural crops is the key to securing food supply for the growing world population in the shadow of climate change. The company uses its unique genomic editing technology EDGE (Efficient Delivery of Gene Editing), which enables the application of the CRISPR technology in a wide variety of agricultural crops. With the help of EDGE, it is possible to develop improved varieties with new and vital traits, which are not available today in a wide portfolio of crops due to the limited use of the CRISPR technology.

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