Phenome at Top Seeds

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Shai Egozi: Product Development Coordinator & Global PD

As most of you know, PhenomeOne breeding software plays a central role in top seed R&D and PD processes, but for most employees, there is no direct interaction with this tool. In the following article I will explain what Phenome is, our history with it, and how it’s serving us these days.

Breeding software – why do we need it?

Imagine you are a breeder or a PD. The information you are managing includes genotypic data (markers, pedigree), phenotypic data (field observations: shape, color, weight, and so on), and multiple fields are management simultaneously. Now, you need to combine all of this information to develop a product efficiently. How can you do it?

If we go back 10-15 years, most small-medium seed companies used spreadsheets for plant breeding management; this limits the ability to facilitate data management which became much more detailed with the progress of genomic and digital tools available today. Spreadsheets also limit key breeding features such as keeping pedigree records and tracking inheriting patterns; it is also limited to data without pictures. Breeding software supports germplasm development and pedigree tracking, breeding fields design and planning, manage selections, crosses, observations, and more. Users can handle their data in a user-friendly and coherent way, grant and restrict other users from accessing it based on the business needs, analyze it, and more.

Who is Phenome?

Founded in 2008 by Prof. Dani Zamir (Hebrew University) and Dr. Yaniv Semel (CEO). The company specializes in software solutions for plant breeding and variety testing. The software developed by Phenome is now being used in more than 100 companies worldwide across the seed industry, food and beverage industry, chemical and crop protection, and oil and paper industry. Phenome Networks developed a software solution, an enterprise platform, well-designed to support high-scale operations done by global seed companies across many sites by many users and multiple crops.

A Little history

Back in 2014, when top seeds work volume was snowballing, and with it, the amount of data collected and managed, we realized that we maxed out the manageable capacity of spreadsheets. We came to the understanding that to stay competitive, we must embrace the use of available technology in the form of breeding software. After one year of examining and testing the available products in the market, top seeds decided, in March 2016, to implement Phenome as it’s primary breeding management platform, and in so doing, became the 18th customer of Phenome. Over the years, we kept broadening our use with Phenome, including in the product development process. The beginning had some bumps, but teams from both companies, Top Seeds and Phenome, are collaborating continuously in close partnership to overcome any obstacle together.

Recent development

Starting the implementation of Phenome a few years back, we had a limited vision of how we should operate it between R&D and PD, leading these departments to work separately inside the same system while losing the advantages of data sharing and processing. In the past year, we took the initiative to solve it by merging the work of both departments into one virtual place managing the data collection. The process began by mapping the needs and limitations of both departments and identifying failure points. We continued by modifying the technical language defined to be clear for all users, explaining work protocols, and delivering them to all our users, followed by technical support as needed. As a result, today, we have all our users working in the same virtual space, making our data flow faster, more accurately, with better transparency, improving our efficiency, our internal communication, and helpings us to achieve better results.