DuPont and OligoCo have entered into a collaboration to develop new technology that could enable the intense use of synthetic biology to help feed a growing global population. The efficient production of long, high-quality DNA segments known as oligonucleotides is essential to reliably transcribe genetic information into full length genes, and accelerate the pace of discovery and development of improved crop products.

Under the agreement, DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred will collaborate with OligoCo to develop a next generation oligonucleotide synthesizer. Pioneer will leverage the new technology in its customer-focused agriculture biotech research programs by combining it with its proprietary gene shuffling technology as well as other synthetic biology tools to increase throughput and probability of success in early discovery.

“Harnessing the most advanced tools in plant molecular genetics is essential to developing crops with improved traits,” said John Bedbrook, vice president, DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology. “Our collaboration with OligoCo enables us to further develop and access cutting-edge technology that helps us improve crop performance faster and more efficiently.”

Oligonucleotides are short DNA sequences which are used in a number of applications to transcribe the genetic code. Today’s oligonucleotide synthesizers allow scientists to produce and assemble DNA sequences rapidly, but cost and quality of oligonucleotides produced vary significantly, preventing the broad deployment of synthetic biology techniques. Pioneer’s requirements for high-quality, product-enabling discovery tools and OligoCo’s proprietary technology and commitment to quality, along with the resources from both companies will be brought together to develop the next generation oligonucleotide synthesizer.

“OligoCo is excited to work with Pioneer in the development of the next generation oligonucleotide synthesis technology,” said John Richards, president, OligoCo. “In combination with our other collaborators, our goal is to introduce a novel synthesis platform that provides high throughput, low error rates and low cost, all of which are important enablers for synthetic biology.”

OligoCo, formerly Blue Heron Biotechnology and a leader in gene synthesis, has significant experience in oligonucleotide synthesis.