A Quantum Leap with Genome Select

— Sime Darby Plantation’s first step towards a 100% commercial replanting programme with genome research materials known as ‘Genome Select’
— The projected yield benefits - an average yield of 9.9 metric tonnes of oil per hectare as a first 5 year average yield under the best environmental conditions

When research into the oil palm genome began in 2003, Sime Darby Plantation (SDP), in realising its potential, quickly got on board, recruiting the best biotechnologists in the business and restructuring the Sime Darby Technology Centre to cater specifically for research in the biotechnology field of study. In November 2005, collaborative efforts on a project to analyse gene expression data began with bio-informatics company ‘Synamatix’, and it was during this time that the possibility of sequencing the genome was explored. This collaboration, led by Dr. K. Harikrishna, the head of SDP’s R&D team, helped Sime Darby Plantation become the first company to completely sequence, assemble and annotate the complex sequence of 1.8 billion chemical units that make up the oil palm’s genetic code.


From 2009 onwards, the genome sequence of oil palm was used to identify 1,000 genetic differences in Sime Darby’s elite materials that are highly associated with yield. State-of-the-art high throughput genetic testing facilities were established to allow fast commercialisation of these new technologies. With the help of Sime Darby Plantation’s over 20 years of experience in palm breeding studies, the team analysed the genetic code to identify genetic traits of high yielding palms. The team was then able to produce a formula to predict the yield of an oil palm using genetic testing.

Oil palm is already the most efficient oilseed crop in the world, capable of producing ten times more oil per hectare than other leading oilseed crops. Through genetic analysis and selection, Sime Darby would be able to select ideotype oil palms that can further improve the yields per hectare of these crops. This would help Sime Darby to continue meeting the world’s demands for oils and fats without increasing their land usage. Unlike Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops, the ideotype oil palms seeds are naturally pollinated seeds that have been selected based on results from a genetic test, rather than through genetic modification.


In April 2016, Sime Darby Plantation successfully conducted the first commercial planting of the new high-yielding oil palm genome at its Dusun Durian Estate in Banting, Selangor.

The Sime Darby “Genome Select” oil palm is expected to deliver further significant improvements in yield per hectare over the long run and is anticipated to have the potential to produce 9.9 metric tonnes of oil per hectare as a first 5 year average yield under the best environmental conditions.

According to SDP Chairman, Tan Sri Dato’ Abdul Ghani Othman, this achievement represents a new and historic chapter in the oil palm industry. The future of the oil palm industry has never been more exciting with SDP at the forefront with this quantum leap!

Your shopping cart is empty.