GenomeSelect

Producing GenomeSelectTM 


 

At Sime Darby Plantation, we believe that a step change in yield has the potential to allow our entire industry to meet demand for growth without using more forest land. Our higher yielding seed, GenomeSelectTM, is the result of over a decade of research. 

In 2009, our Research & Development team set out to take genome mapping in palm oil to the next level.
 
Using our research on the genome sequence, we initiated a genetic testing programme of palms representing the entirety of Sime Darby Plantation’s breeding population. This enabled us in 2016 to produce our higher yielding seed, GenomeSelectTM – requiring the application of large-scale data analytics to complete 80 million genetic tests for 80 thousand individual palms. The following year, we were proud to become the first Malaysian company to win an Edison Award for the development of GenomeSelectTM.
 

 

Last year was a landmark moment for us when the very first commercial harvest of GenomeSelectTM showed a 20% increase in yield compared to our best planting material to date. That represents more than double our average yield today and provides real confidence in what’s possible to achieve through innovation focused on yield improvement. To date, we’ve planted GenomeSelectTM seeds in 2,300 hectares of our plantation.

We’re now scaling up production of these seeds to meet all of Sime Darby’s replanting needs. Within three years, we expect to produce over 10 million GenomeSelectTM seeds per year, allowing us to sell this higher yielding material into the commercial market.  

Beyond meeting our own company’s demand for growth, we hope this research can inspire a vision for the entire industry to meet the long-term demand to produce more oil without the need to clear any more forest land.
 

 
Collaborating to study the pollinator weevil 

As in any agricultural industry, pollinators are essential and pollinator weevils are critical to the health of the palm oil industry in Southeast Asia. With the population of weevils declining and under threat, there was increasing concern in the industry that a stagnant gene pool would lead to greater numbers of weevils dying out.

Sime Darby Plantation partnered with Applied Agricultural Resources and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board to assess the diversity of Malaysia’s weevil population.

Using first-of-their-kind weevil DNA markers, we tested the genetic variation of the weevils, comparing Southeast Asian and native African weevil populations. Our study found that there are sufficient genetic differences to maintain population levels for the time being, which has provided great reassurance to the palm oil sector in this region.

We have shared this research and our methodology so that it can serve as a reference for the entire industry to maintain the necessary genetic variation for pollination by encouraging weevil exchanges between estates or even companies, and to monitor when it may be necessary to reintroduce native African weevils to sustain the diversity required.

We were delighted to work in partnership with others to apply our capacity in genetic  analysis to respond to a shared challenge, and help establish a collaborative approach for the industry that enables all of us to ensure that our palms can continue to breed effectively in the future.
 
  We have shared this research and our methodology so that it can serve as a reference to maintain the genetic variation necessary for pollination into the future.  

Find out more about the publication of oil palm genome sequence

Find out more about our Breakthrough Innovation 
 
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