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Dow AgroSciences Grants License to Danforth Center to Improve Cassava Crop

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Dow AgroSciences has granted the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center a non-exclusive sublicense for use of its gene expression technology under a deal announced today.

As part of the agreement, the Danforth Center will be able to use a promoter that allows disease-resistance genes to be introduced and to function in the cassava plant, thereby blocking viral replication.

Cassava is a food source for more than 750 million people and an important income source for small farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, it is susceptible to a number of pathogens.

The Scripps Research Institute developed the technology covered by today's deal, and Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, exclusively licenses it. The technology will improve the center's ability to develop cassava that can better withstand viral diseases and improve the productivity of subsistence farmers in Africa, the center said.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In early 2010, Dow AgroSciences and the Danforth Center began a research collaboration on cassava, and today's agreement provides an addition to crop improvement tools that are already at the center, it said.

The Danforth Center's Claude Fauquet is developing disease-resistance technology aimed at reducing the impact of Cassava Mosaic Disease and Cassava Brown Streak Disease. He and his colleagues at the center are partnering with researchers in Africa to improve, evaluate, and eventually deploy cassava varieties that will reduce losses of cassava from disease and improve food security.

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