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Evogene, Marrone Bio Collaborate to Control Insects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Evogene and Marrone Bio Innovations today announced a collaboration to discover new modes of biological action for insect control and to develop and commercialize new insect control products.

The deal leverages Evogene's computational gene discovery capabilities and Marrone Bio's microbial-based solutions for pest control and plant health. Separately, Evogene, based in Rehovot, Israel, will use the joint assets of the collaboration to develop biotechnology insect-resistant seeds, while Davis, Calif.-based Marrone Bio will develop biologically based insecticides. The companies will share revenues from all insect control products developed through the collaboration, they said.

The deal specifically is focused on two insects, the Western tarnished plant bug, or Lygus hesperus, and beet armyworm, or Spodoptera exigua, each of which are responsible for significant damage to a variety of major crops, Evogene and Marrone Bio said.

Insects damage about 20 percent of the worldwide global yield annually, a figure that is anticipated to rise. Most prominent bioinsecticides and all biotechnology insect-resistant seeds consist of mode of actions derived from a single microbial species, Bacillus thuringiensis. Products based on the species, however, cannot control all insect types that damage agricultural crops, while those that they can control have increasingly become resistant to such products. Evogene and Marrone Bio said they will work to identify new modes of action by focusing on other microbial species.

They added that the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation evaluated the collaboration and has selected it for partial funding of an undisclosed amount. The BIRD Foundation supports cooperation between Israeli and US companies in various technologies.