DuPont, Evogene partner to improve soybean rust resistance

DES MOINES, Iowa, and REHOVOT, Israel — DuPont and Evogene Ltd. recently announced a multiyear collaboration to improve resistance to soybean rust, one of the most devastating fungal diseases in soybean.

Under the agreement, DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred and Evogene will collaborate to develop soybean varieties displaying in-plant resistance to rust. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Soybean is one of the world’s most important crops, supplying protein for human and animal consumption and feedstock for oil production.

Dangers

Soybean rust is a severe fungal disease, which causes significant yield losses that can reach up to 80 percent of the affected field. It is estimated that the yield losses caused by soybean rust exceed $1.5 billion annually.

Development of new rust-resistant soybean varieties would help growers protect harvestable yield against rust, ultimately improving productivity of agriculture. DuPont and Evogene will jointly generate a genomic database tailored to soybean rust resistance.

Technology

Evogene will utilize its computational genomic technology, the ATHLETE™, to identify novel genes predicted to improve soybean rust resistance. Pioneer will use proprietary technologies to evaluate the genes in transgenic soybeans, and may advance leads for further development and commercialization.

Evogene will be entitled to receive milestone payments and royalties based on the sales of resulting products.

Funding

Pioneer and Evogene have received an approval in principle for partial funding of the project from the BIRD Foundation, a bi-national foundation funded by the Israeli and American governments, which supports and encourages cooperation between Israeli and American companies in various areas of technology, and provides assistance in locating strategic partners from both countries for developing joint products.

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