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10 months ago

The Partnership no. 18

Product Break through in

Product Break through in new spinach varieties with strong resistance pattern Enza Zaden has a long history in spinach breeding but played until recently a modest role in the spinach market. Field expeditions to its areas of origin yielded a great deal of material, expanding the genetic basis for breeding. Several varieties with an improved resistance pattern against downy mildew (Peronospora effusa), among others, are now doing well in the United States. Spinach is a delicious, sought-after and extremely healthy vegetable. It is also an interesting product for Enza Zaden, although it was never a dominant crop for them. In the past ten years, targeted investments have been made and the extra efforts are now yielding results. Trinette van Selling, Crop Breeding Manager for leafy products, highlights the most important developments. “Our varieties did well with the established players, but other businesses tended to be faster with breeding on resistances,” she said. “The push for improvement came in 2008, when we participated in an initiative of the Centre for Genetic Resources at Wageningen University & Research.” That year, a team of botanists travelled to Central Asia to collect wild spinach plants. Three years later there was a similar expedition to the Caucasus. Most of the wild species grow in these areas of origin, and there is a lot of genetic variation present. “This was also true with regard to resistances and resilience to pathogens such as downy mildew," notes the Crop Breeding Manager. “There was an urgent need for ‘fresh DNA’ to bring our resistance breeding to a higher level.” 4 | The Partnership The Partnership | 5

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