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ViaLactia, Orion Pen Agricultural Genomics Deal

NEW YORK, May 31 – ViaLactia Biosciences of Auckland, New Zealand and Orion Genomics of St. Louis, Mo., said Thursday they had agreed to team up to develop improved species of forage plants as well as the technologies for agricultural genomics.

Under the terms of the deal, Orion will apply its GeneThresher technology to sequence and identify genes in important forage grass species.  The two companies will then work together to develop DNA microchips, SNP detection tools, and sequence databases.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ViaLactia is hoping the alliance will help to boost the New Zealand economy.

“The pastoral industries in New Zealand contribute over 40 percent of the country’s export earnings,” said Kevin Marshall, managing director of ViaLactia Biosciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Dairy Board. “Forage plant improvements will have an immediate and positive economic impact.”

Orion’s GeneThresher technology is designed to separate repetitive junk DNA from genes, allowing scientists to develop effective assays that can more readily hone in on gene function.

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