DuPont and Evogene Ltd. today announced a research collaboration to improve drought stress tolerance primarily in corn and soybeans. Under the agreement, DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred has exclusive rights to several genes discovered by Evogene for improving these traits. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"Drought has an enormous impact on crop productivity and quality as well as cost of production. It's the one agronomic pressure that negatively affects growers in every country around the world, every year," said William S. Niebur, vice president -- DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development. "We look forward to creatively combining our technologies to develop superior products that use water more efficiently, leading to greater productivity, profitability and sustainability of agricultural systems."
Drought causes global crop losses in excess of $8 billion annually. The impact of drought will likely increase, based on predictive models used to study the effects of ongoing climate changes. Improving corn and soybean tolerance to drought stress will help maximize grower yield and income, as well as provide more grain for the food, feed, fuel and materials value chains.
The candidate genes were discovered by Evogene's most advanced in-silico gene discovery technology called the "ATHLETE." Pioneer will evaluate the licensed genes in its elite corn and soybean germplasm to measure the benefit in its commercial products.
"We are pleased to collaborate with Pioneer, a world leader in developing and supplying corn and soybean seed varieties. This collaboration reinforces the value of our gene discovery tools and will help us determine the utility of our candidate genes," said Ofer Haviv, Evogene president and CEO. "This collaboration is a significant milestone for us."
Pioneer is taking multiple approaches to drought tolerance that include conventional breeding, molecular breeding and transgenic programs. The collaboration with Evogene is complementary to the drought tolerance work already under way at Pioneer.
Evogene's mission is to be a world leader in delivering improved plant traits to the agro-biotechnology and biofuel industries through the use of a continuously improving proprietary platform that combines state-of-the-art computational genomics, molecular biology and advanced breeding methods. Evogene's current product development portfolio includes such traits as: abiotic stress tolerance and yield, improving nitrogen use efficiency, enhancement of cotton fiber quality, increasing oil yield for the biodiesel industry and plant manufacturing of therapeutic proteins. Evogene was founded in 2002 as a spin-off of the agro-biotechnology division of Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ:CGEN) . Evogene's core in-silico technology, the ATHLETE, is based on Compugen's proprietary LEADS computational platform. Evogene completed an IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in June 2007. For additional information, please visit Evogene's website at www.evogene.com.
Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.
DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.