Technology of the Year: How Intrinsa Produces Stronger, Healthier Plants

When greenhouse growers think about technology, they may have visions of some shiny new equipment or an automated system for moving plants or managing the greenhouse environment. However, the technology is also applicable to the development of new plants, which can lead to efficiency and cost savings.

Such is the case with Intrinsa Plant Power, which was designed by Dümmen Orange’s research and development team in 2015 and was officially introduced to the company’s Ditto garden mums series in 2020.

As with any innovation, greenhouse technology and variety development can take years. But as Intrinsa Plant Power illustrates, when the two go hand in hand, results can exceed expectations.

How it works

Intrinsa uses advanced, rapid-to-market molecular breeding technologies such as AI phenotyping, predictive breeding, and high-resolution greenhouse validation through extended bioassays to identify natural traits in the genetic catalog of crops that demonstrate resistance to disease or virus.

By deciphering and analyzing the genetic code of plants, Dümmen Orange can discover the precise biological causes of existing or missing resistances. In the next step, Intrinsa carefully enhances the DNA, systematically improving and extending a plant’s crucial traits. In doing so, deficiencies are corrected from within, using the plant’s intrinsic capabilities. The result: plants that are indifferent to different types of stress.

Target crops and diseases

Intrinsa was introduced to the Ditto Garden Mum family with resistance to Chrysanthemum White Rust (CWR) in 2020. Since then, over 80% of Dümmen Orange’s Garden Mum program is now CWR resistant, allowing less production and long-term chemical applications. – long-term protection against disease.

In the spring of 2022, the Petunia Smartunia and Smartunia Windmill series were introduced to the industry as the world’s first tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) resistant petunias using Intrinsa breeding technology. If plants with Intrinsa are exposed to the specific disease, they will not develop symptoms or spread the disease to neighboring plants. Resistance to these diseases has proven to be strong and durable.

As Intrinsa is introduced into other crops, greater sustainability, cost savings, and stability in the supply chain from grower to home gardener are expected to continue across the industry. ‘industry.

“The goal is to create stronger, more resilient and healthier plants that look fantastic from the mother plant at the cutting farm to the final consumer,” says Stephanie Whitehouse, North American Decorative Products Manager. annuals at Dümmen Orange. “We still stick to those phenological or serial traits that have made Dümmen Orange leaders in the breeding industry. We simply add this additional advantage to each plant or series.

Watch the video here to learn more.

Benefits throughout the supply chain

Intrinsa was developed to provide benefits to growers, retailers and consumers in several ways.

“The strong, long-lasting resistance with Intrinsa means crops are more durable and reliable,” says Whitehouse. “Growers will see their use of chemicals reduced and will be reassured about the success and performance of their crop. Producer profitability will increase through reduced chemical use, reduced crop losses and improved order fulfillment. »

For retailers, it’s a great story to share when they get questions from consumers about what’s sprayed on plants, where the plants come from, and if they’re pollinator-friendly.

“We conducted research with retailers who are always trying to justify to their customers why they have to pay more for premium plants,” says Marta Maria Garcia, Marketing and Retail Manager at Dümmen Orange. “If they can show the value of Intrinsa in producing stronger, healthier plants that will last longer in the garden, that helps justify their higher price.”

At the end consumer level, it is about demonstrating that the plants can have proven garden performance and will remain fantastic over a long period of time.

“Consumers feel like they’re getting more for their money because their petunias are going to last longer in their hanging basket or garden,” says Whitehouse.

And after

While Petunias and Chrysanthemums were the initial crops incorporated into Intrinsa (the goal is to have 100% of these categories represented), there are more on the way.

“Powdery mildew in kalanchoes is next in the pipeline,” says Garcia. “It will likely launch for the 2024 selling season.”

Then there are other categories, including cut flowers.

“It’s not just the most common annuals and perennials,” Garcia says of Intrinsa. “We have to look at all of our activities.”

Garcia smiles as he thinks of Intrinsa’s future potential.

“We’re just getting started and we’re really excited for what’s to come,” she said.

Lessons from the team behind Intrinsa

Hans van den Heuvel (General Manager, R&D) and Tosca Ferber (Director of Research) at Dümmen Orange led the way from the development of Intrinsa to where it is today. Below, they share lessons learned along the way.

Van den Heuvel“Breeding for invisible traits, like resistances, is a paradigm shift in the ornamental world. However, being a precursor does not only have advantages. There was no prior experience to draw on, and all stakeholders needed to be convinced and educated on the why, what and how of Intrinsa. Our customers, growers and retailers, have proven to be quick learners. They understood Intrinsa’s contribution to sustainable horticulture and were less concerned about crop losses due to pathogens and pests.

Ferber“Intrinsa is based on the assumption that resistance to viruses, fungi, bacteria and other insects exists, most likely in botanical material. However, there were no examples of finding targeted traits in the ornamental world. Convincing scientists willing to join a new team with such a difficult task was not easy. Fortunately, it did not take long for the first resistances to be discovered and for technological tools to be developed for predictive breeding. I still spend a lot of time training stakeholders on each new trait. »