DNA sequencing plus non-GMO breeding increase plant protein quality and crop yield

February 19, 2019

Equinom, a seed tech start-up company based in Israel, says it is able to use “cutting-edge” technology to create plant proteins with higher protein content, higher crop yields, and less reliance on land and water consumption.

Equinom, a seed tech start-up company based in Israel, says it is able to use “cutting-edge” technology to create plant proteins with higher protein content, higher crop yields, and less reliance on land and water consumption. The company says it is using DNA sequencing and algorithms, combined with natural, non-GMO breeding techniques, to discover and breed high-value plant seeds. As a result, food companies and consumers could have access to products with higher nutritional content at competitive prices, the firm says.

The company’s press release says: “Equinom’s tech experts used DNA sequencing and algorithms to discover various genomic crop characteristics. Then, through careful selection, breeds for seeds that maximize a plant’s natural abilities. This technology enables production of non-GMO grains and pulses, including chickpeas, sesame, and soy, that possess substantially more protein with better functionality than varieties currently on the market. The technology also led to the discovery of rare varieties and traits that existed in nature but had been lost in years of breeding.” The company says desired qualities can be either found in a singular seed variety or be achieved through crossbreeding.

Equinom’s CEO Gil Shalev says his company’s capabilities can address some of the challenges the plant protein market currently faces, including the poor organoleptic properties of many current plant protein ingredients. Equinom will work with food companies to determine their “target seed attributes” and goals, including higher protein and nutritional content and better taste and color, for instance.

Equinom says it is helping put food companies in closer touch with the supply chain and that the companies it works with have more access to transparency and traceability. Also, time to market is increased, it says. “A food company that depends on legumes of a certain composition may have to wait anywhere between five to ten years under traditional methods,” said Itay Dana, director of marketing at Equinom, in a press release. “Today, working in concert with the food company, we can design a target product with all the desired characteristics of taste, quality, and nutrient composition within two to three years.”

The company says it has already signed contracts with food companies, including Sabra Dipping Company LLC (a joint venture of PepsiCo Inc. and Israel’s Strauss Group Ltd.), as well as a commercialization agreement with Mitsui & Co. of Japan. On the supply side, Roquette recently entered into a partnership with Equinom to develop new pea varieties with higher protein content.