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Ontera, BASF Strike Agricultural Dx Development Deal

NEW YORK — Ontera has partnered with German chemicals giant BASF to develop a portable diagnostic device for in-field agricultural applications, the companies said today.

Ontera, formerly called Two Pore Guys, was spun out of the University of California, Santa Cruz to develop a handheld molecular sensor based on proprietary solid-state nanopore technology. Earlier this year, the firm shifted its focus to the agriculture market with the goal of releasing tests to detect plant pathogens and their resistance to pesticides. As part of that move, Ontera — which has an ongoing collaboration with Bayer subsidiary Monsanto — said it has been working with crop science partners to create assays for specific applications.

Under the terms of their deal, the companies said they will use Ontera's technology to develop a device that can detect diseases and resistances in crop plants. Additional terms were not disclosed.

"Innovative diagnostic technology to catch threats to yield and quality early on is vital for modern, sustainable agriculture," Jürgen Huff, senior vice president of crop protection research and development at BASF's Agricultural Solutions division, said in a statement. "Ontera's platform … provides farmers with critical information needed to save crops, reduce losses, and optimize pesticide application."