According to the National Association of Plant Breeders, “plant breeding is the science-driven creative process of developing new plant varieties that goes by various names, including cultivar development, crop improvement, and seed improvement. Breeding involves the creation of multi-generation, genetically diverse populations on which human selection is practiced to create adapted plants with new combinations of specific desirable traits.”
In general terms, multiple seed manufacturers define plant breeding as the crossing of two plants to produce an offspring that, ideally, shares the best traits of the two parent plants. Traditionally, conventional breeding techniques were practiced for the development of new traits and seeds. With the advent of biotechnology in agriculture, hybridization, molecular breeding, and genetic engineering are currently being explored by plant breeders.
Nagesh Manepalli – Head of Research : Food, Beverage, Animal Nutrition & Agriculture, at MarketsandMarkets™, shares his Point of View as mentioned below:
Some of the recent developments in the plant breeding market are:
- On January 16, 2019, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) jointly announced the launch of Innovature. Innovature, a new platform to spark a thoughtful dialogue around innovation in food and agriculture, with an initial focus on gene editing.
- On January 15, 2019, NRGene (Israel) and Japanese carmaker, Toyota, announced that they have jointly decoded the genome of a leading commercial type of strawberry. This achievement is expected to promote a high-quality, locally produced fruit for the Japanese market.
According to a recent study by MarketsandMarkets™, the global plant breeding market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.95% to reach USD 14.5 billion by 2023 from an estimated value of USD 7.5 billion in 2018. North America is estimated to account for the largest market share in 2018. According to ISF, in 2016, North America, especially the US, led the commercial seeds market. Also, the US was the second major exporter of commercial seeds across the globe, according to ISF statistics in 2016. The increasing industrial value for corn and soybean in the US has been encouraging breeders to adopt advanced technologies for better yield, owing to which the adoption rate for genetics in this country has been high, leading to North America being a dominant market plant breeding in 2017.
What’s driving the Growth of Plant Breeders in the Global Market?
Some of the key drivers fueling the demand for plant breeding are highlighted below:
- The falling costs for genomic solutions: The initial phase of capital investment for genomic solutions was high due to the complexity of sequences, limited availability, and the cost of testing involved. However, with the increasing research and extraction of DNA markers over the years, the price of these markers fell exponentially. According to a few industry experts, over the past decade, the prices for DNA markers have fallen from USD 100 to USD 2, which marks a decline of 98% during the time span.
- Advanced technological solutions: The advent of advanced technologies such as automation and high-throughput systems generates keen interest among researchers in adopting next-generation sequencing (NGS) and genotyping-based sequencing (GBS) methods for the initial stages of marker-assisted selection, instead of QTL analysis. The introduction of genomic selection technology during plant breeding is set to revolutionize the breeding market, wherein through this technique, entire genomes can be selected through machine learning and advanced data science techniques.
FIGURE 1: PLANT BREEDING APPLICATION MARKET SHARE, 2017
Source: Company Press Releases, Annual Reports, Expert Interviews, and MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
High Cost of Modern Breeding Methods to Restrain Market Growth
Though the cost of markers and genetic solutions is declining at an exorbitant rate, the initial capital investment for molecular breeding is comparatively high. The major factors requiring high investments are in terms of prerequisites such as human resources, equipment, and chemical reagents. Moreover, the use of a small number of crosses and small segregated populations is common in plant breeding programs, funded by the public sector. In such cases, conventional breeding practices are preferred owing to the low investments associated.
FIGURE 2: PLANT BREEDING MARKET SHARE, BY BREEDING METHOD, 2017
e – Estimated; p – Projected | Source: Company Press Releases, Annual Reports, Expert Interviews, and MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
Key Developments in the Plant Breeding Market
- DuPont Pioneer and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (Danforth Center) (US), entered into the collaborative agreement. Under this agreement, DuPont agreed to provide access to its intellectual property (IP), technology capabilities, and scientific expertise related to methods for using CRISPR-Cas technology for the development of improved seed varieties.
- Bayer invested USD 6 million for the establishment of soybean breeding and trait station in Arkansas, US. The facility comprises 180 acres of area for research and focuses on the development of high-yielding soybean varieties.
- Limagrain acquired AdvanSeed (Denmark), through its subsidiary Vilmorin & Cie. The acquired company has specialization in the breeding, production, and distribution of hybrid spinach and leafy vegetable seeds.
Research, Product Developments, and Novel Product Delivery Solutions to Disrupt the Plant Breeding Market in the Coming Years
Biotechnological breeding technologies have been gaining pace in the plant breeding industry, where major seed manufacturing companies have been adopting technologies such as hybridization, molecular breeding, and genetic engineering for improved seeds. Major seed manufacturers have in-house breeding facilities, wherein key players such as Bayer (Germany), Syngenta (US), and DowDuPont (US) have been rapidly adopting plant breeding and genetic technologies for their product segments. Genome editing tools, majorly CRISPR edited crops, have been witnessing popularity by plant breeders, especially in the US.
Strong funding by the private and public sectors toward agrigenomic research, such as the development of high-throughput sequencing systems, application of MAS, and genomic selection in field and vegetable crops, is expected to drive the growth of the market over the next five years. Since the majority of breeding programs are conducted by private plant breeders, the investment in plant breeding is also concentrated in the private sector.
The benefits associated with plant breeding are the major factors contributing to the growth of this market, globally. The increasing demand for improved crop varieties and the growing need to curb pre-harvest crop losses have encouraged the development of advanced breeding techniques. The application of biotechnological methods in breeding processes effectively reduces the time taken and also helps in discovering more information about the function of the gene of interest.