Toyota develops DNA technology that benefits feedstock production

By Toyota Motor Corp. | October 05, 2016

Toyota Motor Corp. recently announced that it has developed a new deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis technology called Genotyping by Random Amplicon Sequencing using analytical materials that have been provided by the Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO). This technology is capable of dramatically improving the efficiency of identifying and selecting useful genetic information for agricultural plant improvement. This newly developed technology should lead to substantial time and cost savings in the agricultural plant improvement process.

TMC is involved in a wide range of initiatives in order to help achieve a sustainable society. In addition to improving the fuel efficiency of its vehicles to help prevent global warming and to also enhance energy security; TMC is also supporting various bio-technology businesses. For example, TMC has applied its wealth of knowledge about production control systems and process improvements to the agricultural field so as to help develop the cloud-based agricultural IT management tool (Housaku Keikaku). At the same time, TMC is also developing a technology that would help to increase the yield of sugarcane as an alternative biofuel source.

Conventional agricultural plant improvement to increase crop yields involves selecting and interbreeding of parent varieties based on extensive past improvement data, assessing progeny over the long term, as well as selecting new progeny with the desired property. However, although the recently developed marker technology, which uses genetic information to predict plant characteristics has helped to improve the efficiency of this process, the lengthy time needed as well as the high cost of this method of DNA analysis have sought to hinder its adoption.

In response, TMC has paired its proprietary sample preparation technology with a next-generation sequencer to develop GRAS, a new technology that can substantially simplify the process of identifying and selecting useful genetic information. GRAS is capable of analyzing DNA in about one-tenth the time needed, and at around one-third the cost of conventional techniques that are being utilized. This is a promising technology that has the potential to boost sugar-cane production, and to increase biofuel crop yields per unit area of land.

In addition to increasing biofuel crop yields, TMC believes that this new technology can also be used to help increase the production and the disease resistance of food crops. TMC plans to continue actively disclosing and providing information about this technology to help facilitate its application in the agricultural sector. A technical evaluation is already under way in cooperation with the Kazusa DNA Research Institute, as the institute has an extensive experience in the field of DNA analysis.