Daicel Arbor Biosciences

Daicel Arbor Biosciences

Since 2018, the IWGSC and Daicel Arbor Biosciences have had a fruitful partnership that led to the release of several tools for crop breeding and genomics based on the Chinese Spring wheat genome reference sequence generated by the IWGSC (IWGSC RefSeq) – including the myBaits® Expert Wheat Exome and a capture panel for promoters and other regulatory elements. Daicel Arbor Biosciences has been a sponsor of the IWGSC since 2020. We are very grateful for their continuous support and are pleased to count this innovative company as our sponsor.

About Daicel Arbor Biosciences

At Daicel Arbor Biosciences, we focus on accelerating discovery in genomics and synthetic biology with our offering of products and services in high-throughput sequencing and cell-free protein expression. Our scientists have extensive research experience across a host of applications, which include human health, agrigenomics, environmental and ancient DNA, evolutionary biology, and forensics. By offering comprehensive consultation, we essentially serve as an extension of our customers’ teams to help overcome challenges, whether in research projects or industry settings. Our customers range from academia to pharmaceutical manufacturers and other life sciences industries. We offer custom-tailored solutions that help customers focus in the areas that create the most value for them, helping to save time and money while delivering optimal results.

An interview with Jacob Enk, Daicel Arbor Biosciences representative in the IWGSC Coordinating Committee

Jacob Enk

Jacob Enk

Director of Research, Development, and Applications
Daicel Arbor Biosciences
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Jacob Enk is a former paleogeneticist that fell in love with the innovative method development demanded by that field. With this shared passion for solving problems, he and his team develop and showcase their genomics and synthetic biology tools for unique applications. They relish technical challenges (especially those presented by complex genomes), and have a knack for minimizing costs and maximizing information content in their assays. They are excited to embrace new sequencing technologies (especially long read platforms) and dimensions of the genome (like DNA methylation) to see where they can make best use of them. But what truly motivates them is assisting their client-collaborators in their quests to conserve and leverage biological variation in ways that benefit humankind and the planet more broadly.

In general, what are the benefits of participating in public-private research consortia?

For a tools company like ours, consortia offer a central resource for comprehensive development program inputs and outlets – inputs from a massive set of stakeholders as to what tools would be broadly valuable (thanks to the public-private nature), and outlets for disseminating those tools. Consortia with a diversity of stakeholder types but a strong focus on a fundamental technical challenge help us execute market research and post-launch maintenance with relative ease. Consortia save stakeholders time, no matter their interest.

What have been the greatest benefits of Daicel Arbor Biosciences partnership with the IWGSC?

As a partner, we get to observe – and participate in – some of the most substantial conversations among field leaders. Our interactions with the IWGSC have in many ways deeply shaped our company personality and mission statement. And of course, as a central resource for message dissemination, the IWGSC has been key.

The consortium is organized by a fantastic team that understands our needs as a sponsor and offers key guidance (and execution) of targeted outreach. And since as a company our bandwidth for participation is only so large, the IWGSC leadership’s habit of actively bringing us ideas based on their strong sense of market needs has been tremendous.

Since 2018, Daicel Arbor Biosciences has developed several tools based on the wheat genome reference sequence, IWGSC RefSeq. What do you have in your pipeline for wheat or other crops that will be coming out in the near future?

The ability to mine and develop markers for use within the breeding program. The genome has also enabled the analysis of our NGS data, which we are using to develop our targeted markers.

You develop highly customized kits for users, can you speak about of the business strategy for these products and of their profitability?

Our business strategy is to be solution-focused, because solutions to specific problems are what our clients value the most. They may take more work to develop and deliver, but our custom kits meet key needs that are underserved by others in our space, and we are proud to be key enablers of the next discovery enabled by custom tools. Further, Arbor is composed mostly of scientists – and learning about and helping solve a wide variety of technical challenges is naturally rewarding for us as members of the scientific community. 

Given the increasing number of wheat varieties that now have high quality genome sequences, what do you see as the greatest challenge for helping breeders and scientists make sense of all the data?

Being able to ask questions of data in a natural, conversational way. This is where we are most excited to see AI evolve, and are eager to onboard it.

What role do genomic tools and resources play in improving agricultural sustainability?

To us, they are all about saving time. Genomic tools dramatically reduce development cycles by potentially orders of magnitude compared to traditional breeding strategies, whether aimed at sustainability or otherwise. And what is more critical than the immediacy of our need for achieving economic and ecological sustainability in agriculture?

Is there anything that the IWGSC is not currently planning that you wish would be part of the strategic activities of the consortium?

A “certified” or “recommended service provider” list, or similar program, could benefit everyone in the network. You would likely get sign-on from various commercial entities for this official promotion.



Modification date: 10 January 2024 | Publication date: 10 January 2024 | By: ic