Brisbane-based biotechnology company and Life Sciences Queensland (LSQ) member NuPlant has made waves on an international scale with the launch of its latest SmartClone™ technology (MkIV model) — an innovative new system revolutionising the way plants are clonally propagated.
As a first-of-its-kind, the technology aims to improve the productivity of the global tissue culture industry, enabling the clonal propagation of selected crops in clients own tissue culture facilities to allow for largescale plantlet production.
LSQ played a vital role in incubating the patented technology, through the provision of workspace and acting as a nexus for attracting investment for NuPlant by leveraging its international network of bioscience organisations and key industry stakeholders.
LSQ Chief Executive Officer Clare Blain said the success of NuPlant’s cutting edge technology is an example of LSQ’s mission in action.
“With our driving purpose being to nurture Queensland’s potential to feed, fuel and heal the world, we are so proud to have played a part in aiding NuPlant through the development and launch of this exciting new technology,” she said.
“NuPlant is forging new frontiers in a field critical to the sustainable development and economic prosperity of the horticulture industry, particularly in a time where we’ve seen so much uncertainty due to factors such as climate change.”
NuPlant’s SmartClone™ technology allows conditions to be customised for each growth phase in a plantlet’s lifecycle, enabling the production of more robust plantlets, grading for uniformity, robotic handling for laboratory efficiency, more efficient soil transfer, and a head start for accelerated nursery growth.
NuPlant Managing Director Bob Teasdale said the new form of clonal propagation provides the most direct means to capture genetic gains from advanced breeding.
“The SmartClone propagation system will allow organisations to quickly and economically deliver robust clones of select plant material at a scale we’ve never seen before,” he said.
“When fully developed for target species, the technology can reduce labour costs by five-fold for many plants when compared to conventional tissue-culture methods, while also increasing plantlet quality and consistency that has been shown to provide benefits not only in the tissue culture facility, but in the nursery and field as well.”
The SmartClone™ technology involves the use of a state-of-the-art ABB IRB120 robot, a suite of custom programs, and various specifically designed tools and hardware components, together with custom designed consumables — which are generally independent of which species of plant is being propagated.
Mainstream use of the system will enable large-scale cloning of species for which higher prices would not be commercially viable, including certain forestry species for pulpwood.
NuPlant currently has 11 SmartClone™ robots in operation in Australia and internationally, with the latest system being sent to California for use in supplying the medicinal cannabis industry, together with various nut trees. Others are in use with a variety of plants including potatoes, citrus, grapevines and blueberries.