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13 April, 2017 - 23:01 By Kate Sweeney

Scientists to develop new varieties of coffee plant

The Tropic Biosciences team

New strains of coffee plant that will help sustain the industry worldwide are being developed in Norfolk.

Tropic Biosciences is bringing together some of the world’s leading experts in plant genome technology for a project to develop new varieties of coffee plant, ready to be made available under licence to growers worldwide.

The £133,000 project has been made possible with a £60k grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and will create jobs for a full-time researcher and part-time technician, to be recruited locally. 

The work will be carried out at Tropic Biosciences’ base on Norwich Research Park, part of New Anglia LEP’s Space to Innovate Enterprise Zone and a world-renowned cluster for research and development in food science.

Tropic’s team of scientists will use advanced genome editing techniques to develop commercially beneficial traits in existing coffee varieties, the first young plants to bear the new traits likely to be produced within 18 months.

Dr Eyal Maori and Gilad Gershon, founders of Tropic Biosciences, said: “As with any global market, the coffee industry constantly faces new challenges, with growers seeking new varieties of plants that offer stronger resistance to disease, higher yield and better quality. 

“It’s our aim to use our expertise in genome technology to answer some of the challenges faced by growers.

“We made a specific decision to base ourselves at Norwich Research Park because of the phenomenal, world class talent and expertise already working here at institutions like the world renowned John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory, and for the equally impressive research and laboratory facilities such a site brings.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: The Tropic Biosciences team – Dr Cristina Pignocchi, Dr Daniel Knevitt, Dr Eyal Maori, Gilad Gershon, Dr Yaron Galanty. 

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