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Pairwise develops 'world's first' seedless blackberry using CRISPR
Siân Yates

Siân Yates

7 June 2024

Pairwise develops 'world's first' seedless blackberry using CRISPR

Agritech firm Pairwise has achieved a new milestone, creating the 'world's first' seedless blackberry using its proprietary CRISPR-based Fulcrum platform.


The breakthrough marks the first time seedlessness has been accomplished in any caneberry (berries that grow on hard, woody stems) variety, potentially transforming the blackberry market and paving the way for advancements in other fruits.


"We are thrilled to share this breakthrough achievement from our talented R&D team," said Ryan Bartlett, Pairwise chief technology officer.


He continued: "Pairwise scientists have used their deep knowledge of plant genetics, broad suite of CRISPR tools, and multiplex editing techniques to eliminate the hard pits in berry fruit, creating soft, small seeds like those found in grapes and watermelon that are commonly labelled as seedless".


In addition to the seedless trait, Pairwise has also successfully edited the same blackberry variety to be thornless and more compact, delivering benefits for harvesters, growers and the environment.


Haven Baker, Pairwise co-founder and chief business officer, added: "Our high-density compact and thornless traits contribute to a more sustainable food system. The absence of thorns and reduced height of the compact plants allow berry harvesters to better access the fruit and leave less on the plant, reducing food waste and further improving the growers' economics."


Early data from Pairwise's trials indicates the potential for significantly higher yields per acre with only a minimal increase in inputs, the company said.


Tom Adams, Pairwise co-founder and CEO, commented: "A key challenge in our food system is helping people eat more high-quality, healthy foods. As part of our drive to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables, we're working to provide consumers with new, highly nutritious food options with improved flavour and convenience."


The seedless blackberry is expected to address a key consumer pain point, with data showing that more than 30% of berry buyers dislike the seeds, and many more avoid the fruit entirely due to the pits.


Pairwise, backed by investors including Deerfield, Aliment Capital and Leaps by Bayer, plans to advance the new berry varieties into outdoor field trials as it works toward scaling up and making them available to the public in the coming years.


#Pairwise #CRISPR #Fruit

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