The technological activity of the company began more than 25 years ago, in 1989, when it started its own improvement program, with the aim of obtaining new varieties of rice, both medium pearl grain and long crystalline grain, adapted to the conditions of Spanish rice growing areas and modern cultivation techniques.
Regarding the improvement methods used, they are based on the hybridization of selected parents and the subsequent genealogical selection of the segregating ones. At the same time, the company develops a strategy for acquiring knowledge and adopting new techniques that facilitate the genetic improvement of plants, such as obtaining double-haploid lines through anther culture or selection assisted by molecular markers. More recently, an improvement strategy facilitated by genomic tools, such as mass variety sequencing or genotyping chips, has been approached. For this, Copsemar has carried out technological innovation projects financed by the CDTI and has participated in research projects financed in different public calls. Within the framework of this R + D + i activity, the company has collaborated with Spanish public research organizations such as the Institute of Agrarian Research of Valencia (IVIA), the Aula Dei Experimental Station of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) or the University of Zaragoza, as well as with other European institutions and organizations.
The development of the Copsemar breeding program has resulted in the obtaining of new varieties of rice. In the CDTI 05-0221 Project, the plant hybridization techniques and the methodologies for evaluating the yield components and the tolerance to Piriculariosis of rice were optimized. This cryptogamic disease is caused by Pyricularia oryzae, and in 2014 Copsemar also obtained the European registration of the Gavella variety, which has three genes for resistance to this fungus. This obtaining derived from the work started in the CDTI project: “Obtaining new varieties of rice resistant to cryptogamic diseases” (IDI-20090012). Also with the aim of improving the rice varieties available in Spain for resistance to Piriculariosis, Copsemar participated in a European project of the ERA-NET Plant Genomics (ERA-PG) call, with the title “Genetic basis of field resistance to blast in European rice varieties to improve breeding ”. This project began in 2007, and within this framework, work was carried out to increase the knowledge of the population characteristics of the fungus that causes the Piriculariosis of rice in Spain.
Based on the results obtained, the crosses with materials identified as resistant to Pyricularia oryzae were started. In 2011 Copsemar started, in collaboration with the IVIA and the University of Zaragoza, the INNPACTO project called “Development of genomic tools for the improvement of European japonica rice varieties through analysis of genetic diversity associated with agronomic traits” (IPT -2011-1244-010000). The main objective of this project was to generate useful genomic tools for the improvement of rice varieties in the Mediterranean area, as well as their application in obtaining advanced breeding lines. Finally, in the years 2012-16 Copsemar has participated in a European project in the ERA-NET Plant Genomics (ERA-PG) call called “Control of abiotic stress responses by the plant DELLAs and chemicals stabilizing these repressors” in which it was attempted advance the knowledge of the role of DELLAs proteins in resistance to growth-limiting abiotic factors, such as salinity.
In 2019 Copsemar registered in Spain the first variety considered a reference for resistance to diseases, offering a powerful tool in the development of organic farming.
Currently, the project called “OBTAINING IMPROVEMENT LINES AND GENETIC CHARACTERIZATION OF FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH PERFORMANCE, PYRICULAR AND COLD TOLERANCE IN RICE (ORYZA SATIVA L) is currently being carried out at the facilities that the Cooperative owns in Sueca (Valencia). ”. The project has a total budget of 535,529 euros, with financing from the CDTI and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Multi-regional Operational Program for Smart Growth 2014-2020 ”(CDTI IDI 20170652) for an amount of 455,199, 65 euros.
This project has a duration of 41 months, from July 2017 to December 2020.
The general objective of the project is to obtain improved rice lines that have superior characteristics for three deficient traits in the varieties currently grown in Spanish rice-growing areas: yield, tolerance to Pyricularia and tolerance to cold in germination. At the same time, the genetic-molecular characterization of the variants of interest is pursued in order to develop and apply biotechnological tools that increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the improvement process.
The specific technical objectives of the project are:
Whole genome association study for yield components in a collection of 190 rice varieties of the japonica type that are grown in agroclimatic conditions similar to those of the Spanish Levante.
Characterization of the genetic basis of the number of grains per panicle in the Copsemar 8 variety.
Obtaining and phenotypic characterization of F2 families derived from crosses between japonica varieties adapted to Mediterranean conditions and high-yielding indica cultivars.
Phenotypic and molecular characterization of resistance to Pyricularia oryzae in F2 families
Validation of SNP markers associated with cold tolerance in germination of japonica rice varieties. Application to the selection of improved lines.
Once the project is finished, all the objectives sought have been achieved, highlighting among others:
The QTLs responsible for the high number of grains per panicle in the Copsemar 8 variety have been identified, and may be used in the future to obtain new varieties with this character
A series of QTLs present in European varieties responsible for various components of productive performance have been identified.
New rice lines have been generated through QTLs obtained in this project with a better response to germination in low temperature conditions.
The study of the combination between local japonica rice varieties and a high-yielding foreign indica variety has been initiated in order to transfer this characteristic through targeted breeding.