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Synthetic Genomics, ExxonMobil Ink New Agreement for Biofuel Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Synthetic Genomics today announced a new agreement with ExxonMobil to develop algae biofuels.

The new co-funded research agreement will focus on using synthetic genomic science and technology to develop algal strains "with significantly improved production characteristics," SGI said.

It and ExxonMobil originally reached a deal in 2009 to develop biofuel from photosynthetic algae that would be compatible with gasoline and diesel fuels. That collaboration hit a roadblock in 2011, however, when an algal strain failed to perform as desired, and ExxonMobil consequently scaled back the work from that contract, Bloomberg reported recently.

Today's agreement focuses on SGI core strengths in synthetic biology with an emphasis on basic scientific research "to develop strains which reproduce quickly, produce a high proportion of lipids and effectively withstand environment and operational conditions."

"The new agreement gives us an opportunity to really focus on improving algal strains using our core synthetic biology technologies to develop biofuels," SGI Founder and CEO J. Craig Venter said in a statement.

Financial and other terms were not disclosed.