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Evogene, Syngenta Extend Pact to Develop Nematode-Resistant Soybeans

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Plant genomics company Evogene today announced an extension of its deal with Syngenta aimed at developing soybeans resistant to a plant parasite nematode.

The deal extends an agreement originally forged in 2009 by the two firms to identify genes that provide resistance to soybean cyst nematode, a pest that is responsible for about $100 billion in crop damages annually. In the US, nematode-related losses to soybean growers are estimated to reach $1.3 billion annually, Evogene said.

The original deal has resulted in candidate genes identified by Evogene that have demonstrated reduced nematode infection and have advanced to additional testing by Syngenta for potential development and commercialization. As part of today's deal, Evogene will use broader discovery strategies to provide Syngenta additional candidate genes with new modes of action to achieve nematode resistance.

The new strategies to be used include Evogene's PlaNet technology, part of its Gene2Product platform, to predict the most promising candidate genes for stacking to improve product effectiveness.

As with the original deal, Rehovot, Israel-based Evogene is entitled to receive research payments, success-based milestone payments, and future royalty payments based on the sale of resulting products by Syngenta.

Evogene President and CEO Ofer Haviv said in a statement that the extension of the agreement "is an important addition to our growing activities in addressing biotic stress conditions, such as nematodes and other plant parasites, where Evogene has built significant capabilities for identifying novel genes to combat the variety of acute biotic stresses affecting the world's key crops."