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GrassRoots, Monsanto Extend Deal for Development of Gene Promoters for Crop Yield

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – GrassRoots Biotechnology and Monsanto today announced the extension of an agreement for the development of gene promoters to enhance and protect crop yields.

The original three-year deal between the two firms has been extended two years and now runs through January 2014.

Monsanto expects to use expression elements sourced from GrassRoots "to optimize an array of biotechnology traits in a broad range of crops, including corn, soy, cotton, and canola," the companies said. They added that the agricultural biotechnology industry has relied on promoters discovered between 20 and 30 years ago that cannot provide the required levels of precise and tissue-specific control of gene expression for the development of the next generation of biotechnology crops that can withstand biotic and abiotic stresses.

The deal provides GrassRoots access to Monsanto's product development and marketing know-how, which could hasten GrassRoots' commercialization of its promoters.

The Durham, NC-based company's promoter discovery approach is based on computational biology for the "generation and analysis of high-resolution expression datasets from both model systems and commercial crops." The promoters are characterized by the company's RootArray technology, which allows researchers to monitor gene expression in the roots in 3D over time and under different environmental conditions.

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