Phytowelt GreenTechnologies' core business is agricultural and industrial biotechnology. Our mission is to exploit plant biodiversity for sustainable production processes out of renewable resources:
“phytoplus® – added value in and out of plants”
Our most innovative technology in cell and tissue culture for modern plant breeding is somatic hybridization via protoplast fusion, a versatile tool using natural diversity for increasing the gene pool of cultivars overcoming crossing barriers, for creation of pollen sterility systems (CMS) for hybrid breeding. Phytowelt combines a high expertise in plant regeneration with new technologies in molecular biology for analysis. Our experience in protoplast fusion ranges from medicinal, ornamental, food and feed plants to trees. Somatic hybridization (SH) offers an innovative approach to overcome many constraints of conventional breeding. Our technique is based on the fusion of somatic cells (wall free cells = protoplasts) by electro stimulation imitating the natural fusion of germ cells.
Somatic hybridization has various advantages as compared to conventional crossing:
- It allows for the introgression of traits from (wild) species into cultivars overcoming crossing barriers. By asymmetric fusion the genome transfer of the wild species can be minimized thus reducing the number of time consuming backcrossing.
- Protoplast fusion facilitates new combinations of nucleus and organelles for the creation of cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS), an optimal tool for hybrid breeding in crop plants. In conventional breeding the maternal inheritance of the organelles restricts the novel mixtures.
- SH shortens the breeding time of species with long juvenile phases like trees extremely (1 year instead of 5-20 years).
- Protoplast fusion (self-fusion) provides an alternative approach to colchicine treatment for the development of polyploid cultivars with increased biomass.
SH is only applicable, if efficient protoplast regeneration systems are available. Phytowelt has established optimal systems for many plant species, including even difficult ones like grasses, cereals and legumes. Phytowelt already applied the SH technology for many different applications.
- In mint cultivars, which are sterile and can only be vegetatively propagated, SH was applied for increasing the gene pool by new combinations for quantitative (bio-mass) and qualitative traits (metabolites).
- In potato cultivars new pathogen resistance genes were transferred from wild species. Various resistant somatic hybrid lines with high tuber yield were selected.
- In fodder grasses new traits from wild grasses were transferred by SH. Biomass yield was increased significantly.
- Phytowelt has developed the first inter-sectional hybrids of poplars! The gene pools of the different poplar species contain all traits needed for breeding cultivars that are ideally adapted for short rotation coppice (SRC), yet intersectional crosses are extreme difficult. Phytowelt`s technology enhances the breeding of optimal SRC poplar clones. Polyploid poplar clones derived from self fusion experiments show an increased biomass.