REHOVOT, ISRAEL--(Marketwire - Feb 12, 2013) - Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN), a leading developer of improved plant traits for the food, feed and biofuel industries, announced today the launch of a novel monocot model plant validation system for evaluation of candidate genes for monocot crops, such as wheat, corn and rice. The new validation system, which uses Brachypodium as the monocot model plant, enables the efficient and rapid evaluation of the performance of candidate genes for improving traits of interest, such as yield and drought tolerance. The system, which has been a high priority infrastructure development program at Evogene for the past three years, is now fully operational and has been incorporated in certain Evogene existing monocot plant collaborations.
In addition to utilizing the new validation system in certain existing collaborations based on Evogene discovered genes, Evogene has begun to enter into agreements with its partners to utilize the monocot model system for validating partners' candidate genes in their pipelines.
Ag-biotech industry efforts to improve traits of interest in key crops require both the prediction by various methodologies of candidate genes, and then the experimental validation of the actual performance of these predictions in plants. Such validation efforts typically begin with model plant systems that offer a much faster and more efficient high-throughput path to initially evaluate and prioritize candidate genes. The prioritized genes, which pass proof of concept in the model plants, will undergo further evaluation in the target crops, such as corn, wheat and soybean.
In the absence of a monocot specific model system in the past, Evogene, consistent with general practice in the industry, has utilized a dicot model plant system -- based on Arabidopsis -- for the evaluation of both dicot and monocot plants. Evogene's Arabidopsis model system has the capacity to validate 1,000 new genes annually under an array of 15 different assays such as yield, nitrogen deficiency and drought. Now, with the addition of the new monocot Brachypodium dedicated model system, Evogene has the unique capacity to provide within one year from gene discovery, and in a high-throughput manner, a complete array of gene validation in model plant, which is data specific for either monocot or dicot target crops.
Evogene's two model plant validation systems strongly complement to its ATHLETE™ and related computational based gene discovery capabilities. This combination provides Evogene's researchers and collaborators not only with targeted novel gene discoveries but also with highly specific model systems for the high throughput validation of these gene discoveries, thus resulting in better candidates being selected for further development in the target crops.
"The successful implementation of our novel monocot validation system is an important additional achievement as we pursue our mission of providing the ag-biotech industry with a complete solution for plant trait improvement for food, feed and fuel through combining state of the art biotechnology and advanced breeding methods," stated Dr. Hagai Karchi, Evogene's Executive VP R&D and CTO. "Furthermore, we are pleased to see partner's choice to utilize this unique capability, not only with respect to genes we have discovered, but also for use with its other candidate genes."
Definitions - Monocot, Dicot and close evolutionary relatives
- Flowering plants are largely classified as either Monocot or Dicot Phylums characterized by generally different plant morphologies.
- Monocot plants have one single embryonic seed leaf. Monocot plants include three of the most economically important food crops: corn, rice and wheat as well as some of the largest and most familiar groups of plants, such as lilies, orchids, agaves, palms, and grasses.
- Dicot plants have two embryonic seed leaves. Dicot plants include important commercial crops such as soybean, cotton, canola and sunflower. In addition, many of the fruits, vegetables, spices, roots and tubers are classified as dicots.
Evogene is a world leading discoverer and developer of improved plant traits through the use of integrated plant genomics. Combining proprietary state-of-the-art computational genomic technologies with advanced breeding methods, the company's discovery infrastructure provides a complete solution for plant trait improvement to its four market focused operating divisions: Yield and abiotic stress, Biotic stress, Ag-chemicals and Biofuels. In addition to its internal programs, Evogene is collaborating with world leading seed companies to introduce its improved plant traits into key commercial crops under milestone and royalty bearing agreements. Evogene, listed for trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: EVGN), is headquartered in Rehovot. For additional information, please visit Evogene's website at www.evogene.com
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" relating to future events. These statements may be identified by words such as "may," "expects," "intends," "anticipates," "plans," "believes," "scheduled," "estimates" or words of similar meaning. Such statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions, describe opinions about future events, involve certain risks and uncertainties which are difficult to predict and are not guarantees of future performance. Therefore, actual future results, performance or achievements of Evogene may differ materially from what is expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, many of which beyond Evogene's control, including, without limitation, those risk factors contained in Evogene's reports filed with the Israeli Securities Authority. Evogene disclaims any obligation or commitment to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future events or developments or changes in expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions.