Jul. 17, 2019
Evogene Ltd. (NASDAQ, TASE: EVGN) a leading biotechnology company developing novel products for life science markets, announces today that after achieving positive results, its corn disease resistance research collaboration with the Crop Science Division of Bayer is being refocused on the identification of genome editing targets for evaluation against a broad range of corn diseases. Evogene will use its CPB (Computational Predictive Biology) platform to identify the required edits to improve disease resistance in corn. The edits will be based on Evogene-discovered genes and the accumulated knowledge achieved through this collaboration, focusing on altering gene expression or function. Any promising targets would be pursued by Bayer’s in-house team for validation.
The collaboration aims to develop improved corn seeds with resistance to fungal diseases. The overall annual value loss from corn diseases in the U.S. alone is estimated at close to $7B, with annual yield loss due to stalk rot disease potentially exceeding $0.7-$1.4B in the U.S.
The collaboration, pursued through Evogene's Ag-Seeds division, is focused on the discovery and development of candidate genes predicted to provide resistance to multiple fungal diseases in corn. Evogene previously announced that genes it discovered under the collaboration had successfully demonstrated stalk rot resistance in model plants and had been advanced to Bayer’s corn pipeline, where they are being tested against additional diseases. Following positive results in greenhouse testing conducted by Bayer, a subset of these genes will be tested in corn field trials.
Chelly Hresko, Ph.D., Disease Traits Platform Lead at Bayer, stated: “We look forward to continuing to work with Evogene on this corn disease collaboration. Plant disease is one of the many threats to crops that has been exacerbated by evolving challenges related to climate change, and the convergence of innovations in biology and data analytics has enabled new opportunities for tailored solutions to keep pace.”
Eyal Emmanuel, Ph.D., Evogene's CSO, stated: "We are very pleased with this development in our relationship with Bayer, a world leader in the agriculture industry. Additionally, the capabilities that we have developed to identify the required edits for the improvement of crop health is a substantial asset not only for our Ag-Seeds division but also for certain of our subsidiaries.”
 Please note that this collaboration was originally entered into with Monsanto Company, which was subsequently acquired by Bayer.
 Common Stalk Rot Diseases of Corn, University of Nebraska Lincoln (2014)
 Please see press release from 11th of July, 2017.