Evogene Ltd., a world leader in plant genomics underlying crop productivity for the food, feed and biofuel industries, and Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese biotechnology company, announced a collaboration, focused on improving productivity by increasing fertilizer uptake and drought tolerance in rice. Pursuant to the collaboration agreement, candidate genes discovered and prioritized by Evogene for these key traits will be introduced into DBN’s pipeline for the development of improved rice. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Rice is one of the most important grains for human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of all calories consumed worldwide. Over 50 percent of the world’s population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of its nutrition. China is the world largest consumer and producer of rice, with approximately 25% of all world rice production.
Under the collaboration, DBN will be granted a license to candidate genes, identified and prioritized through Evogene’s Athlete computational technology and validated in model plants. DBN will introduce and develop the licensed genes in rice as part of its R&D pipeline and have the right to commercialize rice incorporating these genes in China. Evogene will be entitled to receive milestone payments and royalties based on the sale of resulting products.

“With China’s need to support a fifth of the world’s population with less than ten percent of the world’s arable land, it is clear that innovative technologies are required to minimize the gap and meet the growing demand for food,” stated Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s president and CEO. “We are pleased to cooperate with DBN on developing improved rice for China, the world’s largest market for this important crop.”

“Improving use efficiency of fertilizer and water can increase farmer productivity, while ensuring the sustainability of agriculture”, said Yuping Lu, Ph.D., general manager of the DBN Biotech Center. “We are pleased to collaborate with Evogene in developing improved rice to bring more innovative products to farmers and to increase our ability to meet the growing food needs in China.”