BASEL, Switzerland and SAN DIEGO -- Syngenta and Diversa Corporation announced today a new 10-year research and development partnership focused on the discovery and development of a range of novel enzymes to convert pre-treated cellulosic biomass economically to mixed sugars -- a critical step in the process of biofuel production.

The new agreement allows Diversa to independently develop and commercialize fermentation-based enzyme combinations from its proprietary platform. Syngenta will have exclusive access to enzymes from Diversa's platform to express in plants for enhanced cost-effective production. Syngenta will pay Diversa $16 million of guaranteed research funding in the first two years.

Converting biomass to biofuels requires breakthrough developments in three areas: chemical preparation of the cellulosic biomass (pre-treatment), conversion of pre-treated cellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars by combinations of enzymes (saccharification), and the development of novel micro-organisms to ferment the sugars to ethanol or other fuels (fermentation). Developing cost-effective enzyme systems is essential to economically converting biomass to biofuels.

Under the terms of the new agreement, which replaces the companies' prior agreement, Syngenta will pay Diversa $16 million of guaranteed research funding in the first two years. Diversa is eligible to receive certain milestone and royalty payments aligned to product development success.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Diversa," said David Jones, Syngenta Executive Committee member. "Diversa has the best inventive capability for truly novel enzymes, and Syngenta has demonstrated its ability to express enzymes cost-effectively in plants. We expect high-value products from this partnership in a market of exciting potential."

"We are pleased with the refocus of our collaboration with Syngenta, a world leading agri-business," said Edward Shonsey, Diversa's CEO. "This agreement creates a highly-focused collaboration to move further into the biofuel market through plant expression in a complementary manner.

"In addition, this agreement frees Diversa to pursue attractive opportunities for integrated commercialization of biofuels, particularly from cellulosic biomass. We look forward to sharing further news of our independent initiatives in this area in the near future."

Syngenta is a world-leading agribusiness committed to sustainable agriculture through innovative research and technology. The company is a leader in crop protection, and ranks third in the high-value commercial seeds market. Sales in 2005 were approximately $8.1 billion. Syngenta employs more than 19,000 people in more than 90 countries.

Since 1994, San Diego-based Diversa Corporation has pioneered the development of high-performance specialty enzymes. The ompany possesses the world's broadest array of enzymes derived from bio-diverse environments as well as patented DirectEvolution(R) technologies. Diversa customizes enzymes for manufacturers within the alternative fuel, industrial, and health and nutrition markets to enable higher throughput, lower costs, and improved environmental outcomes.

SOURCE: Syngenta; Diversa Corporation via PR Newswire.