Traditional Breeding (Non-GMO)

The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory is well equipped to conduct contract and collaborative efforts on plant improvement via basic and advanced traditional breeding methods. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are obtained using recombinant DNA techniques and methods for genetic modification (or genetic engineering, GE) are distinguished from those obtained by traditional breeding and not subject to the same regulatory restrictions. The term ‘traditional’ as used here means that they do not lead to plants or varieties covered by the European Union directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment. Traditional breeding methods are also generally recognized by the USDA as non-GMO.  These techniques however may include the use of tissue and cell culture, techniques for overcoming incompatibility barriers, such as wide crosses and embryo rescue, the use of genetic bridge intermediates, translocation breeding, advanced pollination procedures and in vitro fertilization, techniques for polyploidzation, generation of seedless varieties, anther and microspore culture for haploidization, interspecific grafting, production of inbred and hybrid lines.  In addition, there are two specific advanced traditional breeding methods which fall under the EU 2001/18/EC Directive definition of genetic modification but are specifically exempted under article 3(1) in Annex IB.  These include: (1) the use of mutagenesis via X-rays or gamma rays or by using chemical mutagens such as sodium azide or alkylating agents (e.g. EMS; ethyl methyl sulfonate); and (2) cell fusion techniques for somatic hybridization, including protoplast fusions and cell sorting.

In addition, The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory welcomes collaborations and contracts using techniques which are still under review as non-GMO techniques in the US and abroad, including; the use of zinc finger nucleases (ZNF), TALENS, and CRISPRs as mutagenesis agents, cisgenics, and whole chromosome transfers.  Since these techniques generally require advanced tissue culture, use of embryogenic cell cultures and their intermediates, the expertise in the PBL is well suited to these applications.


The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory welcomes collaborative efforts using traditional breeding (Non-GMO) approaches to plant improvement.  By means of collaboration the PBL encourages approaches to plant improvement projects where working together with other laboratories or groups achieves shared goals and a mutually beneficial outcome.  Such collaborations can be developed through reciprocally shared resources (personnel, equipment etc.) and expertise. The PBL expects its collaborative efforts to be recognized via co-authorship on peer reviewed publications and/or co-inventorship on intellectual properties, including utility and process patents, PVPs and Breeders Rights, where appropriate and subject to the University of Rhode Island Intellectual Property Policy.  In other words, we do not engage in collaborations as traditional breeding service (see Contracts) but as active research participants. Also, the PBL is not subsidized by outside funding or federal agency sources for these types of efforts, therefore collaborators are encouraged to provide assistance wherever possible to accomplish the goals, including: funding visiting scientists, student or postdocs who will be trained; supplies; and/or funding for hiring the required personnel. Greenhouse and field space are available and part of the cost of the project. Details concerning projects can be discussed by contacting Dr. Albert Kausch, Director of The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory.


The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory welcomes contractual efforts using traditional breeding approaches to plant improvement.  In the case of a contract as compared with collaboration, the PBL will produce materials using a client’s method of choice. Pricing will vary on a case by case basis based on the scope of the project, the plant or cultivar of interest and the techniques utilized.  In the case of contract work, the PBL or its members do not necessarily require or request co-authorship or co-inventorship.

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