Breeding new tobacco varieties for health. It seems contradictory, but it is not. This is the goal of the EU-founded NEWCOTIANA Research Project, which will gather scientists from 19 research centers and eight different countries starting in 2018.
NEWCOTIANA aims to modify the composition and therefore the use we make of tobacco plants, replacing smoking nicotine by added value substances used in medicine and cosmetics. To this end, researchers will develop new high-precision breeding technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9, and apply them to the improvement of tobacco genome and other related species. In this way, the aim is to revalue the traditional cultivation of tobacco, providing it with new uses compatible with health and contributing to revitalize tobacco areas in decline with products with high added value more in line with the knowledge economy. NEWCOTIANA is an ambitious European project worth 7.2 million euros involving companies and research centers from seven European countries together with the Technological University of Queensland in Australia, all of them coordinated by the Joint Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants of Valencia (IBMP-CSIC).
NEWCOTIANA is an excellent testing ground for New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) and their applications for sustainable agriculture in the EU. The project will produce reliable data on the utility, robustness, efficiency and safety aspects of a group of four selected NPBTs when applied to the breeding of both conventional and unconventional crop traits. As a result, NEWCOTIANA aims to provide industry, policy-makers and consumers with the experimental evidence and the social communication channels that will facilitate the decision making process for the adoption of NPBTs.
“NEWCOTIANA will apply the most advanced breeding tools to the most appropriated plant chassis to produce end value products in a sustainable manner”.