SOURCE: Evogene

July 10, 2007 09:00 ET

Rahan Meristem and Evogene to Collaborate on Key Banana Disease

REHOVOT, ISRAEL and ROSH HANIKRA, ISRAEL--(Marketwire - July 10, 2007) - Evogene Ltd. (TELAVIV: EVGN) and Rahan Meristem announced today that they will be collaborating to develop bananas displaying resistance to Black Leaf Streak Disease (also known as Black Sigatoka), the most damaging disease threatening banana plantations. Under a recently signed agreement the parties will combine their research and development capabilities to develop the resistant bananas and subsequently market them jointly.

Evogene will utilize its novel computational gene discovery technology to discover genes which confer resistance to the disease. Rahan Meristem, the world's leading banana plantlet producer and marketer, will develop and assess the resistant bananas based on its existing leading banana varieties.

Black Leaf Streak Disease is the most costly and damaging foliar disease to the export-banana industry. The pathogen causes large lesions that eventually cover the entire surface of the leaves, resulting in devastating yield losses. Currently, the only way to control the disease is through frequent -- often more than 50 times per year -- oil and fungicide applications. The frequency of spraying is on the incline from year to year. In some tropical areas the cost of spraying accounts for more than 35% of total production costs, amounting to more than $1,300 annually per hectare. The world cost of spraying banana plantations against this single disease per annum surpasses $500 Million. Also, fungicides are reported to possibly cause environmental and detrimental health effects in the major producing countries of Central America, The Caribbean Islands and Far East.

"We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with Rahan Meristem, a world leading banana producer and marketer," stated Mr. Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO. "Success in this project will not only provide significant financial rewards, but also address a growing environmental problem in certain banana growing countries," Mr. Haviv concluded.

"We look forward to the joint work with Evogene, a leader in gene discovery for key traits in agriculture. The partnership between Rahan Meristem and Evogene will greatly increase the probability of reaching a biotechnological solution to the most important problem in the banana industry -- Black Leaf Streak Disease," said Dr. Eli Khayat, Rahan Meristem's Scientific Director.

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 that combines state-of-the-art computational genomics, molecular biology and advanced breeding methods. Evogene's current product development portfolio includes such traits as: abiotic stress tolerance and yield, enhancement of cotton fiber quality, improving nitrogen use efficiency, increasing oil yield for the BioDiesel industry and plant manufacturing of therapeutic proteins. Evogene was created in 2002 as a 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

About Rahan Meristem (1998) LTD.

Rahan Meristem is a plant biotechnology and propagation company specializing in tissue culture, molecular genetics and breeding. The company has existed since 1974 and is currently the largest producer of banana plantlet by tissue culture globally. Rahan Meristem's selected clones are currently in demand in all tropical regions where desert banana fruit are produced for the export markets. The selection lines "Gal" and "Jaffa" have gained a demand in tropical and subtropical regions of Latin America, Middle East, Africa, and the Far East.

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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