Nordic oat breeding boosted by fruitful collaboration

Nordic plant breeding companies, Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd. (Finland), Graminor AS (Norway), and Lantmännen (Sweden), have together produced an SNP array for Nordic oat to enhance the development of better oat varieties for Nordic farmers.

Nordic oat has been scanned for new single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers in order to speed up oat variety development in Nordic countries. The newly developed SNP array for Nordic oat includes a substantial number of new SNP markers in addition to the ones included in the previously published 6K Oat chip. New SNP markers are custom made for Nordic oat material. The Nordic SNP chip will be used by the breeding companies working in Finland, Sweden and Norway to accelerate variety development by using genomic and marker assisted selection.

Genomic tools are the key to development

SNP’s are variations at a single position in a DNA sequence, and they vary between different plant individuals. They are the key element in analysing and understanding variation in plant breeding materials.  “Genomic selection has changed our ideas on how oat breeding should be done”, says Alf Ceplitis, Technology Manager at Lantmännen. “In order to effectively do genomic selection, we need a good SNP array”. The development of genomic tools for plant breeding has been very fast during the last decade, but genomic tools for oat have lacked behind big crops like maize and wheat. However, oat is more important in Nordic countries than anywhere else, since oat covers from 7 to 14 percentage of farmland in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Together these three countries are the second biggest oat producers in the world after Canada. “Therefore, we have to be active in developing new breeding tools for oat in Nordic countries. We cannot wait for others to do this for us”, says Merja Veteläinen, the breeding director of Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd. The collaboration of three Nordic companies working together has been very fruitful. The results were published at the American Oat Workers Conference 2018, Seattle, WA, USA. “Collaboration on precompetitive areas like development of breeding tools is a win-win situation to all Nordic breeders, despite our competition on the same plant variety market”, says Muath Alsheikh, Research and Development Manager at Graminor AS. “From the Norwegian part, this is a milestone development in oat breeding and it was not to happen without the contribution from Innovation Norway and The Norwegian Agriculture Agencies (Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri)”, adds Muath.

More information:

Alf Ceplitis, Technology Manager, Lantmännen, Sweden email:

tel. +46 105 561 631

Merja Veteläinen, Breeding Director, Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd, Finland email:

tel. +358 40 705 3340

Muath Alsheikh, Research and Development Manager, Graminor AS, Norway email:

tel. +47 976 99 135