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Evogene, Monsanto Extend, Expand Plant Genomics Deal

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Evogene and Monsanto today announced they have expanded and extended an R&D collaboration aimed at identify plant genes related to yield, environmental stress, and fertilizer utilization.

The deal, forged in 2008 and extended in 2011, originally focused on corn, soybean, cotton, and canola. It has been extended through August 2016 and adds a new five-year program to identify genes providing resistance to Stalk Rot disease in corn. Multiple Fusarium species, a family of fungi, cause the disease.

Under the new deal, Evogene will provide Monsanto candidate genes that are predicted to improve yield, fertilizer utilization, and plant resistance to environmental stress. Monsanto will have the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the candidate genes for corn, soybean, canola, and cotton.

Evogene also will provide Monsanto candidate genes predicted to provide resistant to Stalk Rot disease, and Monsanto will have the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize such genes.

Evogene will use its Athlete computational technology for gene discovery, and its Gene2Product platform to optimize trait efficacy and accelerate the product development process.

In return, Evogene is eligible for milestone and royalty payments for successful candidate genes resulting from the collaboration that are developed and commercialized by Monsanto. The Israel-based plant genomics firm, which filed to go public in the US in September, also will receive additional R&D payments to support the increased activity, the partners said.

The prior agreement included a put option which gave Evogene, under certain conditions, the rights to sell 1 million of its shares to Monsanto at $12 per share. The option has been canceled, and in exchange all future milestone payments and royalty rates with respect to genes licensed to Monsanto have been increased.

The prior put option also has been replaced with a new $12 million put option under which shares will be sold at market value at time of exercise, Evogene and Monsanto said.

"Agricultural innovation will be key to helping meet growing global demand," David Fischhoff, the lead at Monsanto Technology Strategy Development, said in a statement. "Through the combination of Evogene's gene discovery technologies with our company's trait development expertise, this collaboration is focused on developing new tools that help farmers drive yields even further."