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Fingerprinting of plant varieties

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000245158D
Publication Date: 2016-Feb-15
Document File: 4 page(s) / 87K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Henk Verbakel: AUTHOR [+2]


When a plant variety is commercialized by a third party which appears to be an Essentially Derived Variety of an IP protected variety, one needs to show that the potentially infringing variety was indeed derived from the IP protected variety. In this paper the authors propose a method for introducing unique fingerprints into new varieties. These fingerprints can be used to show infringement of derived varieties commercialized by third parties.

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Fingerprinting of plant varieties

By Wim Vriezen, Scientist Trait Development at Bayer, and Henk Verbakel, Scientist Marker Assisted Breeding at Bayer

Development of a new plant cultivar or variety, either by "traditional" breeding methods or by "modern" molecular modification, requires a lot of time and effort. To recover the costs of this research and development, a breeder may seek to obtain exclusive rights for the new variety and Essentially Derived Varieties (EDVs).

To prevent illegal commercial reproduction of the variety or of an EDV, one can apply for either a Plant Patent, Utility Patent and/or Plant Variety Protection certificates (PVP). Depending on the jurisdiction and protection of a variety it is either prohibited to make, use or sell the variety or an EDV thereof or it is allowed to breed with a protected variety in order to develop a new variety, but it is prohibited to commercialize the same variety or an EDV of the variety (PVP).

When a variety is commercialized by a third party which appears to be an EDV of a protected variety, one needs to show that the potentially infringing variety was
indeed derived from the protected variety. It is currently not easy to prove that such new varieties are indeed derived from the protected variety as due to extensive crossing of breeding material from all over the world it is not likely that specific DNA sequences are unique for one particular line.

Introducing new Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms ("SNP"s or "mutations") in the DNA of the starting material used to develop a new variety would change the situation. These mutations are, as they are newly introduced, only present in germplasm derived from the mutagenized starting material and not in any other existing line or variety.

Imaging that a new lettuce variety has been developed containing few of these specific

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induced SNPs on each chromosome and that this variety is protected under a US patent. If a competitor would use that variety in its own breeding program it will be possible to trace back those SNPs and unambiguously prove that that protected variety was used, even after many generations. This is not possible with conventional methods such as AFLP, sequencing or SNP platforms based on natural polymorphisms.

Generating such an induced SNP set in varieties would therefore make identification of copies of the varieties or use of the varieties to develop EDVs easy, as it will be very difficult to remove these SNPs during breeding.


Generating random SNP's is a simple and forward procedure and can be achieved using a mutagen such as EMS. New SNPs can also have unwanted effect if gene functions are influenced and therefore a mild EMS treatment should be combined with adequate selection steps to prevent deleterious mutations to proliferate in the breeding material. As it is difficult to predict which initial cross will lead to a new variety several lines per breeding program should be treated with EMS. T...