This synchrotron method allows us to analyze plants in vivo, meaning that we don’t need to  take out organs from plants and analyze many aspects in live and intact plants. This can exclude the loss of elements  during sample preparation, says Dr. Brian Ham of the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS). usask.ca/Olufunke Okochi photo

Portable synchrotron to assist plant imaging

The smaller machine can be brought into greenhouses and take pressure off the beam lines at the Canadian Light Source

The Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan is using synchrotron technology as a way to look more closely at plants. By capturing these images of the plants, they will be able to make crop breeding more efficient. The synchrotron that is being used is semi-portable, the first ever designed to be […] Read more

To develop the new guidelines, Health Canada experts reviewed the science around gene-edited crops and concluded that the technology is safe for human consumption and the environment. | Getty Images

Health Canada declares gene editing safe

The ruling is expected to give Canadian producers access 
to the same types of plant breeding available in other countries

Canadian farmers may soon be growing gene-edited crops. That’s because Health Canada has declared that gene-editing technology is safe. Last week, Health Canada proposed new rules to oversee plant breeding innovation, including gene editing. Within the proposed guidelines, released March 25, federal scientists say that gene editing is just as safe as conventional plant breeding. […] Read more

To develop the new guidelines, Health Canada experts reviewed the science around gene-edited crops and concluded that the technology is safe for human consumption and the environment. | Getty Images

Gene edited crops are safe: Health Canada

UPDATED: March 26, 2021 – 1425 CST – adds audio comments from Erin Gowriluk, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada Health Canada has declared that gene-edited crops are safe. On March 25, the department launched a public consultation for what it’s calling a “Proposed new guidance pieces for the Novel Foods Regulation, focused […] Read more


Commonly used in seed form as a cooking spice, black mustard (Brassica nigra) is grown on the Indian sub-continent and is closely related to mustard and canola grown in Canada. | Getty Images

Researchers dive deep into black mustard

New sequencing technology called nanopore helps scientists reveal previously hidden features buried in plant genomes


Decoding the full genome for black mustard has helped advance breeding of oilseed mustard crops and improved breeding of wheat, canola and lentils. “We were interested in black mustard because basically it’s half the genome of condiment mustard and carinata,” said Isobel Parkin, research scientist with Agriculture Canada and member of the Plant Phenotyping and […] Read more

OPAL platform lead Peta-Gaye Burnett, right, works with research technicians Zhijian Chai and Rick Goertzen in the OPAL lab at the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Food Security.  | David Conlin photo

Cutting edge lab holds plant breeding promise

It is also expected to help livestock breeders with health, production, efficiency, reliability and resiliency improvements

Canada’s first fully integrated Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory is ready to offer its services. Steven Webb, chief executive officer at the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan where the new lab is located, said OPAL provides analytical and computational services to study genomics, phenomics (organism traits) and bioinformatics (analyses of […] Read more


Liang Dong is the Iowa State professor of electrical and computer engineering who developed the graphene technology.  |  Iowa State photo

Tape one atom thick measures plant growth

A clear strip of graphene tape, just one atom thick and housing hundreds of microscopic sensors, tells plant breeders which strains best use water and nutrients and therefore grow faster. In corn breeding experiments at Iowa State University, the sensors allow researchers to measure the time it takes for two kinds of corn plants to […] Read more

The head of Monsanto’s global research program said the current success and the big gains in productivity to come will be due to the advanced breeding tools that scientists like him now have to work with. | Michael Raine photo

VIDEO: Plant breeding charts future

CALGARY — Biotech pioneer Rob Fraley feels the biggest benefits to agriculture from genetic tools haven’t come from inserting genes or building custom chemical compounds to support plants, but in plant breeding. “And Canadian farmers have benefited greatly from this technology,” he said. The head of Monsanto’s global research program said the current success and […] Read more

CRISPR: cutting edge tech for plant breeders

CRISPR: cutting edge tech for plant breeders

account_id=”2206156280001″ player_id=”HJ11Iy7v”][/audio] If the player above doesn’t work, try this one: Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story of genetically modified crops began two decades ago, but the tale of that technology may be entering its final chapter. Many plant scientists believe genome editing, a new method to alter plant […] Read more


Breeder Francis Glenn has produced a full-floury corn variety with enhanced digestible starch.  The variety will be tested by farmers in New York state and Wisconsin this year.  |  Jeffrey Carter photo

Leafy silage corn about to get better

BLENHEIM, Ont. — Francis Glenn scored a coup when he released the world’s first leafy corn varieties more than 20 years ago. That achievement and more recent silage corn breeding advances will be recognized in July at the annual meeting of the Canadian Seed Trade Association in Windsor, Ont., where Glenn is slated to receive […] Read more

With $3.1 million in funding, University of Alberta plant breeder Habibur Rahman will look for genes in vegetable crops that could be used to breed improved varieties of canola.  |  File photo

Vegetables could improve canola performance

Hybrid crop | Alberta scientist believes genes from vegetable crops could improve disease resistance and yields

EDMONTON — Cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga and brussels sprouts may hold the key to improved disease resistance and higher canola yields, says a University of Alberta plant breeder. Habibur Rahman said he hopes the thousands of genes locked into vegetable crops and other members of the brassica family will help him develop more genetic diversity in […] Read more