08 Jun 2024

Pairwise patents first seedless blackberry with CRISPR technology


Pairwise, a company pioneering genetics-based innovation in food and agriculture, has developed the world’s first seedless blackberry. Created using the company’s proprietary Fulcrum™ Platform, a complete suite of novel tools for CRISPR application in plants, this is the first time seedlessness has been achieved in any caneberry.

Breakthrough achievement

“We are thrilled to share this breakthrough achievement from our talented R&D team. 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 labeled as seedless,” said Ryan Bartlett, Pairwise Chief Technology Officer. “The result is the first seedless blackberry in the world. We expect that this trait will not only transform the blackberry market, but it also lays the groundwork for accelerated progress in removing seeds and pits in many other fruits such as cherries.”

Consumer benefits

Recent innovations in produce have been rapidly adopted due to the significant benefits they provide consumers, such as improved flavor, consistency, and convenience.

Year-round sweetness

“The berry variety we edited is consistently sweet year-round and holds up well during shipment; now, consumers will have the option to choose a nutritious blackberry without seeds that also reliably delivers great flavor and quality,” said Haven Baker, Pairwise Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer. “Blackberries are a snackable fruit with significant health benefits; however, data indicates that more than 30% of berry buyers do not like the seeds, and many more do not even buy the fruit because of the seeds.”

Enhanced plant traits

In addition to creating the first seedless caneberry, Pairwise has successfully edited the same variety to eliminate thorns and create a more compact plant that delivers benefits for harvesters, growers, and the environment. The thornless and compact traits enable more efficient fruit harvesting and improved productivity and profitability for growers. The new compact trait means the plants are smaller and can be planted at a higher density per acre. Early data from Pairwise-led trials indicate the potential to greatly increase yield per acre while necessitating only a minimal increase in inputs – meaning the water and land used per crate of fruit harvested decreases significantly.

Sustainable food system

“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. With the precision of CRISPR, we’re able to develop these thornless and compact traits without sacrificing consistency in flavor and quality for consumers,” said Baker. “We’re excited to advance these berries into the next phase of product development, including outdoor field trials, as we work toward scaling up and making them available to the public in a few years.”

New era of innovation

“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 flavor and convenience,” said Tom Adams, Pairwise Co-Founder and CEO. “With a deep understanding of the plant genome, an accurate, efficient, and scalable process, and streamlined pathway to commercialization, we are not only creating new products with our proprietary CRISPR technology, we are creating a new era of innovation in agriculture.”

Image by ArthurHidden on Freepik

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