26 November 2004

Home gardeners are set to benefit from Australian company, Origo Biotech Pty Ltd’s latest University of Queensland research into developing plants which produce more flowers over an extended season.

Origo Biotech Project Manager, Dr Helen Sargent, said the company hoped this new technology would provide the nursery industry with a plant growth regulator (PGR)-free alternative when growing popular ornamental species.

Origo Biotech’s patented technology was discovered by Associate Professor Jimmy Botella from The University of Queensland and licensed to Origo Biotech by UniQuest Pty Ltd, UQ`s main technology commercialisation company.

“At present, the nursery industry globally sprays plants with PGR to enhance plant flowering but Origo Biotech would like to replicate these effects naturally in the plant,” said Dr Sargent.

“The benefits to the consumer will be that the plant they purchased from the nursery will continue to display the same growth patterns at home, in other words lots of flowers and a compact shape, without the need for PGR-applications,” she said.

“Origo Biotech is using a gene technology, nicknamed ‘Plentiful’, which we’ve demonstrated successfully in two non-commercial plant species but we will now trial it in some ornamental favourites including petunias and snap dragons.”

The company has received $250,000 funding from the Australian Government’s Biotechnology Innovation Fund (BIF) to carry out the work over the next 18 months.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson said the BIF funding was essential to allow Origo Biotech to carry out its proof-of-concept trials.

“Origo Biotech’s technology has the potential to provide significant environmental, economic and consumer benefits to the nursery industry –and a large international ornamental breeder and seed distributor has already expressed interest in the outcomes of this latest research,” said Mr Henderson.

“If Orgio’s trials are successful, UniQuest will then work with them further to raise additional funding to commercialise the technology.”

Origo Biotech, backed by Origo Investments Pty Ltd, is an Australian company majority owned by Spanish investors.

For more information, contact Julia Renaud on (07) 3365 4037, mobile 0438 436 179, email j.renaud@uniquest.com.au) or Dr Helen Sargent on (07) 3346 9968; mobile 0403 335 234, email h.sargent@origobiotech.com