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Live Challenges

Tools to detect non-visible indicators of poor agronomic performance

Closing Date: August 2nd 2024

Portrait Cai Wen

"Being able to diagnose and discard poor performing seed varieties early in our development cycle will enable us to focus resources on accelerating the introduction of essential crop traits to help farmers produce better and more productive crops sustainably."

Cai Wen, Senior Scientist Trait Biology


We are seeking ideas and / or technologies to enable detection of non-visual indicators of poor agronomic performance.

As a leading developer and producer of seeds our research focuses on improving essential crop traits to provide better seeds to farmers. We develop crops with insect control traits and herbicide tolerance as well as those providing protection from disease and environmental challenges in order to improve farmer productivity.

Through our research, we have discovered that sometimes plants which appear to perform well in our laboratory or glasshouse testing environment, fail to live up to expectations when planted out into an open field.

Our current assessments, rely on visual indicators of agronomic performance which may not manifest under the controlled conditions of a glasshouse and therefore can go undetected until field testing takes place.

This challenge is to find diagnostic tools that do not rely on visual indicators that we can use to evaluate plants prior to field trials in order to remove those that are likely to exhibit poor agronomic performance. The solution could include (but is not limited to) a diagnostic tool that can detect molecular changes in the plant (e.g. changes to DNA, RNA, metabolites, hormones or proteins) that differentiate it from the non-modified control.

Whilst our preference is for fully validated solutions, we are also open to those which will help advance our knowledge and understanding. So, if you have a hypothesis, with a reason to believe, please submit a proposal for consideration as a research collaboration.

What we're looking for

  • Enables assessment of plant materials in the laboratory or the glasshouse
  • Provides reliable detection of subtle agronomic deficiencies for the identification of “undesirable” plants early in the development pipeline
  • Has the potential to provide screening with a medium to high throughput (1000’s of plants)
  • Of particular interest is the ability to identify indicators of poor agronomic performance resulting from the introduction of exogenous genes that are stable or transiently expressed in plants and tested in controlled environment conditions.
  • Short turnaround (weeks from data collection to decision making)

What we can offer you

Collaborator of choice

For hundreds of institutions, our innovative and forward thinking scientists are keen to explore how we can partner for success

Realize real world potential from your research

Through our global reach and market knowledge we can help deliver impact from your research or technology

Funding and backing

We are able to fund selected projects to drive toward commercialization through our global footprint. We'll discuss with you how best we can take forward your technology or research together

New avenues and opportunities

Shared passion to tackle agriculture’s most complex challenges, increase innovation, and advance more sustainable agriculture

Work with us to help with our challenge

Our people are specialists: they are innovators, scientists, engineers, technologists, regulatory experts and data scientists in multiple fields.