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CropDesign, Brazilian Sugarcane Project Enter Crop Improvement Deal

NEW YORK, Sept. 4 – CropDesign of Gent, Belgium, and the Sugarcane EST Genome Project (SUCEST) of Sao Paulo said Tuesday they had agreed to work together to search for ways to improve crops, including sugarcane.

Under the terms of the deal SUCEST will contribute its database of genetic information on sugarcane genes, while CropDesign will provide its tools for developing improved crops.

CropDesign will have exclusive access to SUCEST’s database for an undisclosed sum. Together the two entities will combine their bioinformatics capabilities to study genes that can help to improve yields and make plants more resistant to stress.

CropDesign, an agbiotech company with 60 employees, will also incorporate select genes into its rice TraitMill product, a system designed to evaluate and clone genes.

CropDesign will be responsible for marketing the results of the partnership outside of Brazil, while both entities will commercialize any results for crops other than sugarcane in Brazil. SUCEST will have the exclusive rights to commercialize the program results for sugarcane in Brazil.

“SUCEST has built one of the most comprehensive plant genome databases integrating sequence and functional information with state-of-the-art data mining tools,” Herman Van Mellaert, CropDesign’s CEO, said in a statement. “Our access to these sugarcane resources combined with other cereal databases, will increase the efficiency of lead discovery in the TraitMill.” 

Sugarcane is a close genetic relative of major cereal crops such as corn, rice and wheat.

Brazil produces one quarter of the world’s sugarcane and is a major producer of rice, corn, and wheat. SUCEST, a state-funded project, began sequencing the sugarcane genome in 1998.

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