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DuPont News, November 22, 2011

Collaborating to Feed the World

DuPont and Evogene Ltd. yesterday 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 work together to develop soybean varieties displaying in-plant resistance to rust. 

“Strong disease resistance has been a cornerstone to the growth of our Pioneer soybean business,” said John Bedbrook, vice president, DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology.  “Unique science from Evogene is going to help us more effectively tackle soybean rust.”

Soybean is one of the world's most important crops, supplying protein for human and animal consumption and feedstock for oil production.  Soybean rust is a severe fungal disease, which causes significant yield losses that can reach up to 80 percent of the affected field.  Yield losses caused by soybean rust are estimated to exceed $1.5 billion annually. 

DuPont and Evogene will jointly generate a genomic database tailored to soybean rust resistance.  Evogene will utilize its computational genomic technology 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. 

“We are very pleased to enter into this collaboration with Pioneer, one of the world's largest seed businesses and a leading provider of soybean seeds, to utilize our advanced trait discovery technologies to address the important biotic stress condition of soybean rust,” said Ofer Haviv, Evogene's president and CEO. 

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.

Evogene is a world-leading developer of improved plant traits, such as yield and drought tolerance, for a wide diversity of key crops through the use of plant genomics.