Plant breeding began thousands of years ago when mankind selected better quality plants for a safe and reliable food supply. Nowadays, plant breeders need access to different tools to quickly develop new crop varieties that can deal with drought conditions and disease outbreaks that are aggravated by climate change. Learn more about plant breeding and scientific innovations here in English and in Dutch. You can also read more about genome editing in the VIB brochure "CRISPR-Cas".

In two joint publications, De Rybel (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Belgium) and Helariutta (SLCU, UK) research groups contribute to our understanding of plant radial growth by showing that several DOF-type transcription factors control oriented divisions in specific cells belonging to the vascular tissues called procambium cells.

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Inari, a US-based Flagship Pioneering Company, opens a branch at the Technology Park in Ghent. This site, close to the partners VIB and ILVO, allows access to outstanding local genomic, bioinformatic and plant science expertise. The Ghent team of Inari will be focusing on increasing water and nitrogen-use efficiencies in crops, which is critical to address the climate change and to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

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Since 2017, VIB performs field trials with maize plants in which small genetic changes have been introduced using the precision breeding technique CRISPR. Until the end of July 2018, the federal Belgian authorities allowed VIB to perform such trials without a specific GMO permit. However, after the ruling of the European Court of Justice of 25 July 2018 in case C-528/16 the federal authorities have changed their position. For that reason, VIB has applied for a field trial permit to be able to continue and expand its research in 2019.

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