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Toyota licenses its GRAS-Di DNA analysis technology to Kazusa DNA Research Institute, Eurofins Genomics, and GeneBay

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) is licensing its GRAS-Di (Genotyping by Random Amplicon Sequencing-Direct) DNA analysis technology that can dramatically accelerate selective breeding to Kazusa DNA Research Institute, Eurofins Genomics K.K., and GeneBay Inc. (Earlier post.) The licensees will put the technology to practical use in contract-based analysis businesses in Japan and abroad.

Selective breeding has up to now involved repeated selection and mating of parent varieties, based on extensive past results, and evaluation of their offspring, in order to select new varieties with the desired characteristics. In September 2016, Toyota announced that it had paired its proprietary sample preparation technology with a next-generation sequencer to develop GRAS-Di, a new technology that can substantially simplify the process of identifying and selecting specimens with useful genetic information.

GRAS-Di addresses limitations posed by conventional technology, enabling significant reductions in cost and man-hours. As a result, cost has been cut by approximately two-thirds and person-hours by approximately nine-tenths of the previous level, according to Toyota.

In signing the agreement, the parties described their evaluation and expectations.

  • Kazusa DNA Research Institute expects that the technology will not only be used by research and development organizations but also widely by private companies.

  • Eurofins Genomics said that the ability of this technology to analyze a large number of DNA samples easily and quickly at low cost will support further research and will significantly contribute to addressing world food and energy problems.

  • GeneBay noted that it is common industry knowledge that it is necessary to acquire a large amount of DNA and data, which was a hurdle for spreading the technology and applying it. We expect it to be widely used in agriculture and livestock, and many other industries.

It is expected that GRAS-Di can be applied to general selective breeding, not only in agriculture, but for wide-ranging development in areas including the livestock, forestry, and fishery industries. Toyota believes that by introducing the technology to companies that intend to expand their businesses globally, the technology will contribute to addressing global issues through increased production of biofuels and foods and improvement of the disease resistance of crops. Consequently, Toyota will continue to actively disclose and share information in an effort to spread technology further.

Background. To prepare for the population, food, and environmental challenges of the 21st century, and to support the sustainable growth of the automobile industry in general, Toyota thought it necessary to create a business that contributes to the environment. Consequently, the company established its Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory in Miyoshi City, Aichi Prefecture in May 1999, which has engaged in business activities focusing on R&D and demonstration activities, in addition to activities that contribute to the community and society.

In April 2011, Toyota began work to improve the rice production process with the aim of contributing to the sustainable growth of agriculture. In April 2014, the company launched a cloud service (Housaku Keikaku), which applies the concept of the Toyota Production System, production management techniques, and process improvement know-how from the automobile business to agriculture. Toyota also provided improvement support services unique to the company and has promoted improvements to productivity and human resources at agricultural production sites.

Currently, the Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory is engaged in business activities that will widely contribute to enriching communities. This is intended to be accomplished within a scope ranging from research into basic technologies to the improvement of work sites, all within the fields of environmental contribution and the agricultural and livestock industry.


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