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Cucumbers that stay green longer

The key to the improved fruit shelf life, is mutation of the “stay green gene” in the cucumber plant

Cucumbers which have a shelf life of up to 5 weeks – thanks to mutation induced in the cucumber plant’s DNA – are described in a patent application by Enza Zaden Beheer B.V.

According to documents recently published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), even if conventional cucumbers are wrapped in foil to extend their shelf life, they still turn yellow within 1-2 weeks. And while cooling extends the shelf life of some other fresh produce, low temperatures tend to cause chill injury when it comes to cucumbers.

But the Dutch plant breeding company says its invention involves a cucumber plant (Cucumis sativus) producing fruit that, under standard storage conditions, takes 4-5 weeks to turn yellow.

Once ripe and yellow, cucumbers are usually bitter and sour, which is why they are mainly eaten in their unripe green form, it says.

The key to the improved fruit shelf life is mutation of the “stay green gene” in the cucumber plant. The application says the mutation can be introduced by use of mutagenic chemicals such as ethyl methane sulfonate (EMS) or by irradiation of plant material with gamma rays or fast neutrons.

Compared to that in conventional cucumber plants, the expression of the stay green gene in the new plant, or the enzymatic activity of the protein which the gene encodes, is lower.

“In the research that led to the present invention, it was surprisingly found that a reduced expression of the present gene or a reduced enzymatic activity of the present protein provided fruits having an extended shelf life for a time period up to five weeks when stored under standard storing conditions for cucumbers,” the application says.

Source: WIPO, 1. (WO2016012346) STAY GREEN CUCUMBER PLANT:

Image: conventional cucumbers

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Patents sought for new IFG grapevine varieties

Screenshot 2014-12-03 at 17

Three new grapevine varieties are the subject of patent applications by International Fruit Genetics (IFG) CEO David Cain.

Based in Bakersfield, California, IFG has known exponential growth since the introduction of its first commercial table grape variety – still its main variety – the crispy red seedless Sweet Celebration. Today it has more than 20 registered varieties and its grapevines are grown in 11 different countries.


According to applications recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, IFG has applied for patents for three new black grape varieties:


Grapevine ‘IFG Fifteen’ is described as producing medium size, oval, completely black berries having medium firm texture and which ripen in early mid–season. While most similar to the Summer Royal variety, it differs by ripening about 1–2 weeks later, having a mild muscat flavour, smaller berries and a stronger stem, the application for this variety says.


Grapevine ‘IFG Sixteenproduces naturally large, ovate to slightly elongated ovate, black seedless berries which are medium firm in texture and ripen late in the growing season. Its fruits normally ripen mid to late September near Delano, California.

While most similar to its parent the Autumn Royal variety, its differences are said to include having a broader cluster shape, a much smaller residual seed trace, slightly softer flesh, no tendency to develop an astringent flavour, higher yields, better tolerance of rain during the ripening season, and more flexible and less brittle canes, thus reducing damage during pruning and other operations.


Grapevine ‘IFG Seventeenproduces naturally large, narrow elliptic, black seedless berries which are firm in texture and ripen late in the growing season.

Most similar to its parent the Autumn Royal variety, this new variety also differs by having a much smaller residual seed trace, no tendency to develop an astringent flavour and by its higher, more consistent yields.

It is also said to have better tolerance of rain during the ripening season, more flexible and less brittle canes, and berries that are smaller than the Autumn Royal variety but colour more easily.


Since 2001, IFG  has grown more than 75,000 grape seedlings. Every variety is tested for 3–7 years before release.

On its website, IFG says it is designing new varieties to fit the “niches” in the table grape industry, referring to coming ones as: “Exotic black grapes with Muscat flavors; crisp white grapes that burst like sweet liquid sunshine in your mouth; highly productive seedless grapes that are easier and less labor-intensive to produce.”





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New platform for licensing of plant breeding traits



No doubt sparking renewed debate over intellectual property rights and plants, the International Licensing Platform (ILP) was launched on Friday. Members of the new association say it aims to improve global access to and use of plant breeding traits for vegetables.


According to Greenhouse Canada, the participating companies include Agrisemen, Bayer, Bejo, Enza, Holland-Select, Limagrain Vegetable Seeds, Limgroup, Pop Vriend, Rijk Zwaan, Syngenta and Takii. A report by VILT, the Flemish information center for agriculture and horticulture, said the ILP will hold 60% of the world market of vegetable seeds in its hands.


A press release published by Netherlands-based hybrid seed specialist Nunhems, a subsidiary of Bayer CropScience, said 11 companies from Switzerland, Germany, Japan, France and the Netherlands, worked together to establish the ILP “with an aim to provide plant breeders around the world with faster, more efficient and cost effective, guaranteed access to crucial plant breeding traits that are currently covered by patent claims by ILP member companies.


“The ILP provides a straightforward, easy way for vegetable breeders to license the traits they need at a fair and reasonable cost so they can bring new products to the market that meet demands from growers and consumers. The members of the ILP will make all of their patents related to vegetable breeding traits accessible to their fellow members under the conditions of the ILP,” it said.


Monsanto said it applauded the initiative but is not a member. “We believe both the ILP and our new licensing program enable a technology exchange that will foster agricultural collaboration and innovation thereby increasing the variety and quality of vegetable seed products available to growers,” said Marlin Edwards, chief technology officer at Seminis, a vegetable seeds subsidiary of the company.