The future seen through molecular biology

Staying at the forefront of a business based on the development of technology and new planting materials means investing in new technologies. Molecular biology offers options that were unthinkable in the agriculture of our grandparents. ASD has seen biotechnology as a tool that will help maintain its leadership, which is why it initiated a program in this discipline led by Eng. Emmanuel Araya, under the direction of the genetic improvement program.

ASD’s molecular biology program aims to provide tools, through the use of molecular markers, to achieve a more efficient selection of superior parent plants with special traits in pursuing the development of new, increasingly productive palm varieties. In the short time that this program has had (started in 2006), important advances have been made, such as the generation of the genetic fingerprint of the compact clones, the association of micro-satellite markers with fruit type, the study of the relationships and genetic diversity in the Elaeis oleifera germplasm, and the search for markers linked to the compact trait (short trunk and leaves). This research will help establish the legitimacy of the clones, and the use of the genetic fingerprint specifically in the registration of germplasm as a way to protect the property rights of ASD Costa Rica.

In the future we will continue with the search for markers linked to compact material traits, the yield and composition of the oil in populations of compact origin and pure guineensis. In addition, the use of a DNA sequencer will allow the analysis of sequences in palms that produce oil with outstanding amounts of palmitic acid and oleic acid. Other desirable traits, such as the fixation of the color of the virescens fruit, will help to optimize the harvest, since it will greatly reduce the cutting of bunches that are not yet ripe. Finally, tolerance to the most important diseases of the crop is a trait that theoretically can also be fixed with the help of molecular biology techniques.