Apomixis is the asexual reproduction of seed, or the ability for plants to clone themselves. Apomixis is a naturally-occurring phenomenon in many wild plants but is not present in major commercial crops.

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plant reproduction

Apomixis, a naturally occurring form of asexual reproduction in plants whereby seeds with embryos genetically identical to the mother plant are produced, represents a revolutionary tool for plant breeding. The introduction of apomixis into crops would enable the genetic fixation of single generation hybrids using heterozygous parental lines, a process which would spur agricultural innovation.

  • Hybrid crop production is expensive (>$150,000,000 to create a new trait) and has inherent inefficiencies.
  • High labor costs – primarily in pollination control
  • Complex planting patterns of male and female inbred lines in seed production fields;
  • Pollination control
  • Inbred lines are inherently unpredictable and have low seed yield

A self-pollinating hybrid that maintains its genotype has tremendous value in both the marketplace and society. The prospect of rapidly creating niche-specific (i.e. “perfect”) seed for a particular crop or geographic region, followed by its replication for multiple generations, is an economic game-changer with deep positive implications for global agricultural.

Virgin Plants is a privately-held plant biotechnology company committed to helping feed a growing population by increasing crop production and innovation. Virgin Plants is assembling a portfolio of the best technologies and business minds to bring apomixis to the marketplace. The scientific cornerstone of our firm is a series of proprietary discoveries made by the research group of Dr. Tim Sharbel, an internationally recognized apomixis scientist based at the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan.

Virgin Plants will apply knowledge acquired from wild (non crop) apomictic species to the benefits of hybrids by decreasing the time and costs of producing hybrid seed. In addition, apomixis could potentially enable the exploitation of hybrid vigor in crops that presently cannot be economically hybridized. Our company will partner with breeders and seed producers across a wide range of crops, both domestically and internationally.

Virgin Plants is pursuing natural processes which allow the benefits of hybrids without the attendant time and costs of producing hybrid seed, and potentially allow extending hybrid vigor in crops which today cannot be economically hybridized.