SWEDISH BIOTECH company CropTailor has scored a world first by mapping the DNA of oats, in research which should contribute to healthier and more sustainable varieties of the crop.

Sequencing the comprehensive and complex oat genome will allow plant breeders to develop new oat varieties, for example with higher levels of the dietary fiber betaglucan or higher protein content. In addition, new oat varieties that are more resilient to harmful insects and fungal infestations can be developed.

CropTailor chief executive Olof Olsson said: "I am very excited about this. After many years of extensive research, we have finally cracked the code! To determine the complete nucleotide sequence of the entire oat genome is revolutionary and we will now be able to develop even better oat varieties."

Lantmännen, the Swedish agricultural cooperative owned by 25,000 Swedish farmers, and majority owner of CropTailor, is happy about the research findings: "Lantmännen has during the last 10 years made large investments in plant breeding in order to produce crops with higher quality, improved health benefits and better resilience," said research director Mats Larsson. "Now we can optimize the oat varieties even further, bringing huge benefits to both consumers and the environment."

Researchers used the oat variety Belinda when mapping the genome. The plan now is to sequence additional oat varieties to produce an oat reference genome, enabling identification of genes only found in certain types of oat varieties, which will be useful for future plant breeding.