Avesthagen has been granted patent by the US for "breakthrough" sunflower transformation and eco-friendly safe selection method that can replace the traditional antibiotic marker technology in GM crops.
In the past, antibiotic resistance marker gene(s) have been used for developing GM crops which has raised world-wide opposition to the GM technology in general, Avesthagen said in a statement.
"Avesthagen’s Xylose Isomerase [XI] technology does not use antibiotics in the selection process thus successfully addressing public concerns. This positive selection process is based on the function imparted by the patented technology to metabolise certain carbohydrate compounds during the selection process," it said.
The transformation efficiency of the patented method is approximately two to three times that of the antibiotic based methods thereby increasing the chances of success of identifying transformed cells.
The present patent has been granted towards improvement in the method of generating engineered plantlets with novel genes and can be extended to trait stacking with multiple genes which requires several markers in the selection process.
The patent was also granted for sunflower transformation. This is the first such patent granted for a recalcitrant species.
This will unfold a new market outlook for sunflower seed and oil industry, it said.
Avesthagen said sunflower is an important oil-seed crop with high potential to increase the production of specific polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) essential for human health.
Certain polyunsaturated fatty acids should be part of human supplementary diet as the human body cannot synthesise them. Avesthagen’s patented technology has enhanced sunflower transformation process thus assisting in the process of producing PUFAs, it said.
"This patent gives Avesthagen significant freedom to operate in the global Agricultural Biotech Industry," the company said.