AGRICULTURAL biotechnology and seed company Ceres Inc. recently announced that it is expanding current research activities in Mexico.
The company said its Northern Hemisphere plant breeding sites complement its product development activities in Brazil, where it is commercializing sweet and high-biomass sorghum hybrids for use in renewable fuel and electricity production.
Ceres said the availability of up to three crop cycles per year in Mexico will speed the development of new sorghum hybrids and can lead to hybrids that are adapted to a wider range of growing conditions.
Additionally, the similarity of conditions between sugarcane production regions in Mexico and Brazil allows Ceres' product developers to utilize shuttle testing and breeding, a technique that involves growing multiple plantings each year by following growing seasons — in this case, between the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
In effect, Ceres explained that it can complete two continuous summer evaluations each year, with results from one location informing product selections and advancement decisions in the other hemisphere.
Timothy Swaller, Ceres vice president of genomic technologies, said the company's sorghum research site in the Mexican state of Jalisco will be used to develop new parental breeding lines as well as evaluate numerous hybrid combinations.
Plant scientists will also use this location to conduct support research, such as genetic mapping and genomics studies that improve the speed and efficiency of Ceres' breeding and selection process in Brazil. Previously, the company performed the bulk of this field work in Texas, which was originally selected to develop high-biomass sorghum and switchgrass for the U.S. market.
"Our plant breeding activities in Mexico play an important role in our product development pipeline, and we are confident that the greater efficiency offered here from both a cost and product development perspective will lead to better hybrids faster," Swaller said.