Research & Development

Bionova’s research team consists of 47 full-time scientists who specialize in cell biology, plant genetic engineering, plant genetics, biochemistry, agronomy, plant pathology, and food science.

Their activities are focused on “quality traits”, including fruit ripening control, texture improvement, and extended shelf life and “agronomic traits”, including disease resistance/tolerance.

Core R&D: Vegetatively Propagated Plants (VPP)

  • biotechnology inputs
  • genetic engineering
  • advanced tissue culture

Current Focus: Strawberries

  • Bionova acquired Monsanto’s strawberry assets in December 1998, including rights to use Monsanto’s enabling technology in strawberries.
  • Leverages off of the assets acquired from United Agricorp, which gives Bionova rights to certain strawberry germplasm assets of the University of California.
  • Objective: Develop strawberry varieties with improved agronomic traits, including resistance to fungal disease and herbicides.

Other Areas: bananas, grapes, papaya.

Core R&D: Bionova’s Fresh Produce Business

Objective: Develop fruits and vegetables which retain freshness longer through genetic engineering focused on ripening or softening control. Bionova scientists are also working on retention of freshness and color in cut leafy vegetables.

  • Transgenic Tomato Long shelf life tomato that achieves the consumer attributes of vine ripe tomatoes.
  • Cherry Tomatoes Long shelf life cherry tomatoes and cherry tomatoes included in precut salads.
  • Pepper Products Red, yellow, and orange low-seeded mini peppers with excellent flavor and long shelf life.

Core R&D: Bionova and Seminis Long-term Funded Research Agreement

  • Fungal Disease Objective: Develop varieties that are resistant to a range of fungal pathogens based on their economic importance.
  • Viral Disease Objective: Develop varieties that are resistant to a wide range of viruses.
  • Nematode Resistance Objective: Develop varieties with resilient resistance to Meloidogyne incognita, the root knot nematode.
  • Herbicide Resistance Objective: Develop varieties that are Roundup ┬« resistant by over expression of a tolerant form of bacterial EPSP synthase.

Major Technology Relationships

  • Seminis: R&D, distribution channel through seeds, market knowledge.
  • Monsanto: Enabling technologies and genes.
  • John Innes: Disease resistance, flowering control, and other technologies.
  • CIICA: Micropropagation and field testing capabilities.
  • Mendel Biotechnology: Genomics.
  • University of California strawberry germplasm.
  • Other universities: Diverse technology and germplasm.
  • Others in process.


Over 50 issued patents in U.S., providing protection for:

  • Transwitch┬« plant gene suppression technology.
  • Genes.
  • Transformation/regeneration methods.
  • Promoter systems.
  • Selectable marker systems.

Established patent position for:

  • Gene systems.
  • Gene control of disease, sweetness, color, and acidity.