DArT previews global strategy on a world stage

Recognised as the largest AG-Genomics meeting in the world, PAG30 – the Plant and Animal Genome Conference – was held last week in San Diego in the USA – and DArT was there.

This important event was the ideal place for our Managing Director, Andrzej Kilian and DArT Software Design specialist Reuben Durham to present our experience, expertise and ambitions to the world. 

In particular, Andrzej and Reuben attended PAG30 to present our plan for a new platform that will maximise the use of our wealth of genomic data to help meet our global goal of helping build food security and biodiversity. Our new platform will operate across a broad range of applications, including ecology, agronomy and farming, and will include analytical tools developed by DArT and our collaborators. It is being built at a time of rapid growth in the adoption of DArT capabilities in the area of ecological research, and will encourage sharing of both data and tools in a highly secure environment.

We anticipate most of the 2,000+ DArT service users to form the initial community operating on the new platform, but will welcome much broader participation, including a capacity to ‘Bring Your Own Data’ for analysis on the platform, or co-analysis of data with other users.

Andrzej Kilian

In 21 years of operation, DArT has produced over 3 million genome profiles using a range of technologies – from low density applications like DArTseqLD and DArTmp to genome resequencing with our DArTreseq platform. 

Our high-density platform (DArTseq) has been used with thousands of species of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. This has been critical in germplasm characterisation for many public and private breeding programs, as well as hundreds of thousands of accessions from global genebanks of all major and a number of minor crops.  

In the past few years, our mid-density technology (DArTag) has been growing exponentially. Mid-density panels are particularly popular in routine breeding applications and monitoring of natural populations supporting, for example, Close Kin Mark Recapture applications. We have recently shifted our varietal identification services for international agriculture from DArTseq to DArTag, to further increase affordability of these services, especially in sub-Saharan countries.

Shortly after starting genotyping services, DArT recognised a need to support our clients with data analytics solutions. We partnered with Australian machine learning leaders to help us extract more value from the DNA data we generate. We have developed new algorithms and software in this domain. Mostly in the area of “genetic epistasis”, this allows us to comprehensively test the impact of higher order gene/genetic interactions on our capacity to predict phenotypes based on DNA profile. It also helps to identify the key drivers of phenotypic diversity and performance.

At PAG30, DArT Software Design specialist Reuben Durham (l) and Managing Director Andrzej Kilian (r) catch up with an old friend and one of DArT’s first employees, Peter Wenzl. Peter was an important contributor to DArT’s early technologies after the company was founded in 2001, and is now working with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) In Colombia.

Over a decade ago, we built a data management system – KDDart (www.KDDart.org) – for breeding and performance monitoring, releasing key components under an open source licence. 

Our new platform takes the next step into maximising the value of the data generated by DArT and helping us meet our ambitious goals to help agriculturalists, breeders, ecologists and researchers around the world.

PAG is an annual event where leading global scientists meet to discuss new advances in plant and animal genome research. More than 3600 people attend.

If you missed us at PAG 30, it’s not too late – we welcome expressions of interest from the genomics, agricultural and ecological communities for partnerships and collaboration on our new platform. If you want to be involved, get in touch.

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