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EkoNiva’s plant breeder graduates from Skolkovo

Press-centre / News,

Darya Litvinova, an agronomist and plant breeder from EkoNiva-Semena, has successfully completed the third module of the training course on modern plant breeding technologies. During this final stage of the programme organised at Skolkovo, the attendees studied genomic selection.

The specialised training commenced at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in December 2021. The lectures were delivered by prominent representatives of the leading Russian and European scientific schools who taught employees of commercial organisations and plant breeding centers along with specialists in fields of genetics, selection and biotechnologies from various Russian research institutes and universities.

The first module of the curriculum was devoted to the basic principles of modern plant breeding, that is, genetics, statistics and trial design. During the second module, the students found out how to arrange crossbreeding programmes using statistical, genetic and molecular approaches. And the final module dealt with genomic plant breeding.

‘Learning the techniques introduced in this course will not only substantially speed up the breeding process, but also reduce the use of planted areas and respective resources’, says Darya Litvinova, EkoNiva-Semena’s agronomist and plant breeder.

For instance, after a thorough research on climatic features and a genome-wide association study of the seed material, it is possible to predict how a specific hybrid or a variety will perform in a given zone without actually sowing it. It considerably simplifies the selection technology. This approach is based on the statistical analysis which takes into account interactions of different factors. It is also possible to determine the crop reaction to some geographic conditions in advance relying only on the data about its genotype.

Apart from the theory, this programme included practical and laboratory sessions. The lecturers gave their students a unique opportunity to try their hands at everything and adapt it to their own needs. The sessions involved preparing DNA for sequencing – it helps to determine a sequence of nucleotides in the DNA molecule, which play an essential role in various functions like intercellular communication, energy storage and many others.

‘We’ll be able to employ all the knowledge acquired at Skolkovo in production processes and adapt it for our plant breeding projects at EkoNiva. In the future, we’re also planning to cooperate with the experts from Skoltech specialising in biotechnologies and bioinformatics. Plant breeding takes an elaborate teamwork which should run like clockwork’, believes Darya Litvinova.