SOURCE: Evogene

December 19, 2007 09:00 ET

Successful Third Year Field Trial of Evogene's Candidate Gene for Improving Yield and Abiotic Stress Tolerance

Three years of Field Trials of Evo133 Consistently Demonstrate Yield Increases of Up to 25% Under Normal Conditions and Up to 20% Under Abiotic Stress Conditions

REHOVOT, ISRAEL--(Marketwire - December 19, 2007) - Evogene Ltd. (TELAVIV: EVGN) today announced successful third year field trial results for Evo133, one of its candidate genes for improving plant yield and tolerance to abiotic stress conditions. Transgenic tomato plants over expressing Evo133 demonstrated an increase of up to 25% under normal conditions, and up to 20% under abiotic stress conditions compared to control plants under the same conditions. Results from this third field trial are consistent with two previous field trials conducted in 2005 and 2006.

Evo133 is one of a group of genes discovered by Evogene in 2003, which were predicted to provide improved plant yield and tolerance to abiotic stress conditions, such as drought, salt and heat stress. These genes were predicted in silico using Evogene's unique computational gene discovery platform, the ATHLETE, and then experimentally validated in model plants. Evo133 was further validated in field trials in transgenic tomato plants, and has now successfully completed its third year of such trials.

Evogene has entered into collaborations with leading ag-bio companies for the evaluation of Evo133 in major field crops. To date, these collaborations include Bayer CropScience for rice, Biogemma SAS for corn, Mertec LLC for soybean and CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement), a French Research Institute, for cotton. In addition, Evogene is itself further developing Evo133 in canola using recently established "in house" transformation capabilities. Initial results from these efforts by Evogene and its collaborators are expected during 2008 in corn and canola, and 2009 in soybean and cotton.

Abiotic stress conditions, such as drought, salty water, soil salinity and heat stress currently have a massive impact on crop productivity and agricultural supply, and this impact is continuing to increase due to global warming and climate changes. Therefore, developing plants displaying improved tolerance to abiotic stress would have an enormous economic potential, and is one of the main goals for leading seed companies.

"The successful third year field trials for Evo133 are another demonstration of the unique value of Evogene's ATHLETE gene prediction platform, combining plant trait understandings with advanced and proprietary computational biology," said Dr. Hagai Karchi, Evogene's VP development and CTO. "An important feature of ATHLETE is that it is a constantly improving platform. For example, Evogene has already used ATHLETE to complete a second round of gene discovery for improving plant abiotic stress tolerance, with the resulting discovery of a number of additional candidate genes for this important trait," Dr. Karchi concluded.

Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO, added, "With respect to our business model, we are delighted that leading seed and ag-biotech companies are recognizing the potential of Evo133 and other genes in our rapidly increasing inventory of gene discoveries for important traits. As we have previously stated, we intend to continue focusing our gene discovery and validation efforts mainly on increasing yield, improving drought tolerance and Nitrogen use efficiency, in addition to our efforts in the field of biofuels."

About Evogene

Evogene's mission is to be a world leader in delivering improved plant traits to the agro-biotechnology and biofuel industries through the use of a continuously improving proprietary platform combining state-of-the-art computational genomics, molecular biology and advanced breeding methods. Evogene's current trait development portfolio includes: abiotic stress tolerance and yield, improving nitrogen use efficiency, enhancement of cotton fiber quality, increasing yield for canola and soybean and plant manufacturing of therapeutic proteins. Evogene was created in 2002 by the spin-off of the agro-biotechnology division of Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN). Evogene's core in-silico technology, the ATHLETE, is based on Compugen's proprietary LEADS computational platform. Evogene completed an IPO on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in June 2007. For additional information, please visit Evogene's Website at

This press release contains "forward-looking statements." These statements include words like "may," "expects," "believes," "scheduled" and "intends," and they describe opinions about future events. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Evogene Ltd. to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.

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