Evogene Ltd., a leading company for the improvement of crop productivity and economics for the food and feed industries, announced that it intends to establish transformational and validation capabilities for biotechnology soybean.  Activities will initially focus on soybean cyst nematode resistance with certain knowhow to be obtained from Syngenta pursuant to a recently signed amendment to the collaboration agreement targeting soybean cyst nematodes initially signed by the two companies in 2009, and extended in 2013.

To date, under Evogene’s multiple collaboration agreements with leading seed companies worldwide, Evogene has utilized its unique predictive discovery infrastructure and model plant validation systems, to undertake all of the first stage discovery responsibilities.  The resulting candidate genes are then provided to its partners for transformation and validation in the target crop (such as soybean and corn), allowing further development under milestone and royalty bearing licenses from Evogene. 

Under the amendment, validation activities for the candidate genes, which have already been discovered by Evogene under the nematode collaboration, will now be undertaken by Evogene, at its expense and under Syngenta’s guidance, with enhanced commercial terms for Evogene. Moving into the area of gene transformation and validation in soybean represents an important capability for Evogene, in addition to its existing discovery capabilities, with respect to both its internal research efforts and future collaboration arrangements.

Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s President and CEO commented: “Since the existing candidate genes already discovered by us in this collaboration have demonstrated positive indications for resistance to soybean cyst nematode in early testing, we are very enthusiastic about moving forward under these revised conditions.”

“In addition, having soybean transformation capabilities in house is expected to enable Evogene to take on further activities in the product development value chain for this key crop and provide the potential to enter into later stage collaborations," added Mr. Haviv.

Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, Syngenta’s Head of Biology Research, noted: “After more than five years of a fruitful partnership with Evogene in the soybean cyst nematode space, we are thrilled to push this collaboration to the next level and help Evogene deploy new capabilities that will positively impact the outcome of our program.”