Molecular: More Than Meets The Eye

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Promoted

Testing that delves into what you can’t see. 

Most seed testing is based on what you can see — distinguishing visual characteristics in physical forms. Analysts look for differentiating seed characteristics, germinating versus non-germinating seeds, abnormal seedling structures, mechanical damage, visible disease symptoms, bacterial and fungal cultivation on different growth media and microscope identification of spore structures. It’s an old-school approach but still a powerful and comprehensive analytic tool when done by trained analysts.

PCR amplification set up

PCR amplification set up. Photo: 20/20 Seed Labs

Molecular testing delves into what you cannot see. Unique proteins, protein structures, and DNA or RNA sequences are used to identify traits, species, varieties, and individuals. The techniques used are well established in molecular breeding and identification of crop varieties, as well as academic characterization of invasive or evolving pathogens. This approach has become 20/20 Seed Lab’s go-to methodology for accurate diagnostic analysis when there aren’t consistent visual differences, when time is short, or when more sensitive detection is needed.  

“Molecular testing is an area where we see tremendous potential for both the lab and our customers,” said Sarah Foster, senior analyst and president of 20/20 Seed Labs. “We can quickly and accurately provide results to support agronomic decisions and yield goals.” 

20/20 Seed Labs pioneered molecular diagnostics in Canada’s commercial seed testing industry over 20 years ago. It has been quite a journey as we have transitioned from protein to DNA-based detection, presence/absence to quantitative reporting, individual to bulk seed analysis and species detection to pathotype differentiation.

DNA extractions in the Molecular Wet Lab

DNA extractions in the molecular wet lab. Photo: 20/20 Seed Labs

Our award-winning molecular team has successfully built an extensive portfolio of services supporting disease management, breeding, varietal registration, quality, and export requirements. We test seed, soil, tissue, and processed food matrices for the detection of bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, GM content, crop variety, weeds and refuge content. Our test protocols come from international standards and proprietary procedures or were developed in-house from published information and markers. Interpretation thresholds and risk ranges are tied to industry standards or agronomic information based on traditional microbiology or other field risk parameters. Post-implementation, the quality of routine testing is maintained through regular proficiency testing or recertification by the IP holder and follows our laboratory’s ISO 9001:2015 or 17025 accreditation requirements.    

As an independent lab, we pride ourselves on being responsive to the needs of our customers. Our in-house research and development team regularly adds new diagnostic tests to our portfolio, many of which came from client requests. For 2024, we already look forward to completing validations for refuge quantitation in two wheat midge refuge tolerant blends, a new GM event, and several new screening tools to support canola breeders. We also support outside research and development projects with services in the lab and grow-out trials in our greenhouse. If you want to learn more about ongoing test development, are looking for a specific test or are interested in molecular testing, reach out to our team. We like challenges; they ensure our customers and team never stop growing. 

 Available Tests 

Disease pathogens

  • Fusarium Head Blight: F. graminearum 
  • Blackleg: L.maculans 
  • Clubroot: P.brassicae 
  • Aphanomyces Root Rot of Pulses: A.eutiches 
  • Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus 
  • High Plains-Wheat Mosaic Virus 
  • Basal Glume Rot of wheat: Pseudomonas atrofaciens 
  • Halo Blight: Pseudomonas coronafaciens 
  • Verticillium wilt: V. alfalfae 
  • Verticillium Stripe: V. longisporum 
  • Sclerotinia stem rot: S. sclerotiorum 
  • Late Blight: Phytophthora infestans 
  • Blackleg Pathotyping 
  • Soybean Cyst Nematode 
  • Gray Mold: Botrytis cinerea 
  • Stripe Rust of wheat: Puccinia striiformis 
  • Bacterial Leaf Streak: Xanthomonas translucens pv. translucens and undulosa 

Seed identification and characterization

  • Palmer Amaranth 
  • Wheat Midge Refuge Blends 
  • GM Adventitious Presence 
  • GM Proprietary Events 
  • GM Zygosity 
  • Varietal ID: Barley  
  • Varietal ID:  Wheat 
  • Varietal Comparison: Oats, Peas, Soybean 

Link: Molecular Video 

Link: Molecular Brochure landing page 

Link: Molecular website page 

20/20 Seed Labs molecular awards

20/20 Seed Labs molecular awards. Photo: 20/20 Seed Labs


Trending This Week