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Numerous examples in the literature proof that in bioactive plants exists a vast genetic variation even among individual plants of a given species (= intra-specific variation). Differences in content of active compounds between individual plants may amount to a factor of 10 or more.
Although often regarded as disadvantageous, intra-specific variation, from the breeder’s point of view, is very useful, since it opens the door for genetic improvement.
To exploit the treasure of variability, it is an important prerequisite though to source and analyze an adequate number of individual plants from various origins in the initial sourcing and subsequent screen.
We at breeding botanicals international (bbi) are dedicated to the consequent, diligent utilization of intra-specific variation. Consequently, we strongly recommend that at the beginning of any product development a substantial number of authentic plant samples of the corresponding plant species will be analyzed to assess the degree of the intra-specific variation and select the more desirable.
Due to our know-how, experience and global network, bbi can assist you efficiently in the procurement of plant samples from defined sources, assuring that -if needed at a later time- additional samples or larger quantities of similar material may be obtained from the same sources.
bbi will also support you in interpreting the outcome and defining the resulting next steps in plant raw material procurement.
Obviously, employing the best available genetic source of a plant raw material presents an immensely important criterion for later plant material quality, production costs and thus competitiveness.
In this context it is interesting to note that for most plant species with bioactive molecules, little or no breeding efforts have been made so far. This lack of former breeding activities is bane and boon at the same time, because any breeding activities have to start from zero. On the other hand, progress resulting even from preliminary breeding steps usually is significant.
breeding botanicals international’s (bbi’s) team has an outstanding track record with respect to the breeding of bioactive plants (see «Our track record») and variety / cultivar registration.
At bbi the genetic improvement of your plant material, e.g. for the registration of your own variety, will be in competent hands.
Next to genetic factors, numerous environmental factors such as temperature, irradiation, water availability and distribution, water quality, soil type, soil pH, soil organic matter, field exposition, etc. do have significant impact on quality, yield and ultimately on the costs of plant production.
To further complicate the matter, individual genetic accessions may react differently to the conditions given at a specific location (interaction of genotype and environment).
Multi-location-multi-accession trials address these environmental factors and provide information regarding the optimum growing environment of the plant material at hand.
Conducting and evaluating such trials have been a routine for breeding botanicals international’s staff over the past 30 years.
While working with bbi, you will have access to a network of suitably equipped locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas for the implementation of multi-location-multi-accession trials (see also Production and Supply of plant material/Global network of experimental and production sites).
Cultivation practices, including soil preparation, planting density, fertilization, irrigation, weed management, harvesting time or stage have an immediate impact on crop quality and yield.
For this reason, a decent and reproducible product quality principally requires crop-specific cultivation guidelines. In most cases, for bioactive plants, such guidelines are simply not available or outdated, since a majority of bioactive plant species are still gathered from the wild. This is associated with various disadvantages and risks such as inhomogeneity, lack of supply security, traceability and documentation, unpredictable price fluctuations etc.
bbi undertakes nursery, greenhouse and field experiments to work out guidelines specifically developed for the plant material you are concerned with.
Caring for product quality does not end with the harvest of the plant material, but continues during processing, storage and transport. The relevance of such post-harvest steps often is neglected, although inadequate measures, e.g. during drying, may result in severe quality issues (e.g. microbial contamination, aflatoxin contamination, reduction of active compound content, etc.).
bbi knows the critical steps in post-harvest handling and how to optimize them from own hands-on experience in numerous previous projects.
For cost reasons, initial field trials addressing the various impact factors simultaneously use small areas, i.e. only few square meters. The informative value of such initial trials with respect to large scale production schemes is limited, since extrapolation from few square meters to field production on several hectares often is defective; this calls for an intermediate, up-scaling step.
For the up-scaling, breeding botanicals international (bbi) runs pilot production trials of intermediate size; it allows a reasonable extrapolation of subsequent commercial production with regard to quality, yield and costs.
For plant materials which are difficult to obtain from wild collections or for which supply security, sustainability, reproducibility of quality and documentation of production are of major importance, a commercial large-scale production via standardized cultivation is the method of choice.
Up-scaling, establishing and carrying out commercial production schemes compliant with GACP guidelines are major strengths of breeding botanicals international (bbi). bbi has proven its expertise in several successfully completed cultivation projects, e.g. Coleus forskohlii, Petasites hybridus, Gloriosa superba, Solanum glaucophyllum, Cestrum diurnum, Phyllanthus amarus, Vitex agnus castus, Moringa oleifera, Orthosiphon stamineus, Aloysia triphylla (see also chapter «Production and supply of plant material»).
bbi offers to implement and supervise the commercial production of your plant raw material in accordance with your specific needs.
Over a period of more than two decades, the staff of breeding botanicals international (bbi) has implemented and/or supervised various plant breeding and cultivation projects worldwide, e.g. regarding Abelmoschus esculentus, Boswellia serrata and Boswellia sacra, Capparis spinosa, Cassia tora, Cassia obtusifolia, Crocus sativus, Echinacea purpurea, Harpagophytum procumbens, Primula veris, Rhodiola rosea, Rubus suavissimus, Schinus terebinthifolius.
bbi offers to share its own knowledge acquired in numerous development and production projects as consultants, e.g. for the establishment of new cropping systems or for trouble-shooting in existing systems.
bbi supports customers in their plant-based New Product Development. Our principle approach in such developments comprises the bioassay-guided development of new and innovative active ingredients from natural sources.
It includes the discovery, sourcing and screening of suitable plant material, the identification of active fractions and molecules, the development of sustainable extraction methods and the definition and assurance of product quality.