Evogene Ltd., a leading plant genomics company specializing in enhancing crop productivity for the food, feed and biofuel industries, announced an amendment to the remaining work plan under its collaboration with Bayer CropScience LP (Bayer) for improved wheat. Pursuant to the amended work plan, Evogene will shift from discovery of additional genes and SNP's to discovery of novel genomic promoters.
Genomic promoters are segments of DNA that when used with appropriate genes are an essential component of improving seed trait efficacy by determining the expression pattern for the genes in the plants. This pattern includes not only the level of expression of the gene, but also many other key related factors such as the timing or location of the expression.
The original collaboration agreement between Bayer and Evogene was signed in December 2010 focusing on the discovery of novel genes for the improvement of wheat yield, nitrogen use efficiency, and abiotic stress tolerance. Under the collaboration to date, Evogene has utilized its Athlete computational discovery capabilities to discover and provide Bayer with a large number of candidate genes for potential continued development in Bayer's wheat pipeline and commercialization under previously agreed milestone payments and royalty bearing licenses from Evogene.
Under the amended agreement, Evogene will continue in close teamwork with Bayer to utilize its Athlete discovery platform but will shift the focus from the discovery of additional genes and SNP's to identifying novel genomic promoters.
"The amendment reflects a growing realization in the industry that the efficacy of a seed trait depends not only on the presence of the gene of interest, but on its optimization with other factors including how the gene is expressed in the plant. As such, selecting the most appropriate promoters that control the expression of the gene of interest is crucial to the successful development of the desired trait in the plant," said Ofer Haviv, Evogene president and CEO. "As part of the amended work plan, Evogene is looking to identify tens of promoters that will enhance the probability of success of genes in Bayer's wheat pipeline."