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Chromatin announces key research milestone in sugarcane gene stacking collaboration with Syngentaqrcode

Jan. 20, 2011

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Jan. 20, 2011
Chromatin, Inc., announced the first demonstration that genes can be assembled, stacked, and expressed in sugarcane using the company’s mini-chromosome technology, establishing a new platform for future development of this high-value crop.

In 2009, Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc., obtained an exclusive worldwide research and commercial license to Chromatin’s gene stacking technology for use in sugarcane. Under the agreement between the companies, Chromatin has received a payment for an undisclosed amount as compensation for achievement of this milestone.

The mini-chromosome gene stacking discovery will help Syngenta develop new technologies for sugarcane that can provide better yields and better performing sugarcane crops for growers and biofuels producers. The ability to stack genes in crops allows researchers to insert beneficial traits into plants that provide benefits to growers, such as increased sugar content.

"Sugarcane growers and processors will benefit economically and environmentally from access to the combination of advanced traits that could be provided by this technology," said Ian Jepson, Ph.D., Global R&D sugarcane crop lead for Syngenta. "Syngenta is committed to providing outstanding, high-performing crop technologies for our customers around the world, who are increasingly looking to sugarcane to help provide renewable fuels. This technology, combined with advanced plant varieties and innovative crop protection choices, forms an important part of Syngenta’s sugarcane development pipeline."

Chromatin has developed a novel approach to gene stacking, using a plant's own DNA to deliver several genes on an independent and heritable genetic element, without requiring insertion directly into the plant’s host genome (see photograph below). These elements are built to deliver multiple traits and to accelerate development of new products, providing benefits to growers, industrial bioprocessors, and consumers. Chromatin has previously described the success of its gene stacking technology in seed crops; the milestone announced today illustrates the application of this technology to a vegetative crop.

Syngenta’s sugarcane program offers a broad range of products, including its novel Plene™ planting technology that will help simplify production and provide a higher return on investment for sugarcane growers. Sugarcane is among the top crops grown today for sugar production and renewable energy. New trait combinations in sugarcane could offer growers improvements in production efficiency and yield increases.

"Today’s announcement demonstrates continued progress in the collaboration between Syngenta and Chromatin,” said Daphne Preuss, Chromatin's CEO. Syngenta obtained non-exclusive rights in 2007 to use Chromatin's gene stacking technology in corn and soybeans, and it extended that relationship in 2010. "As a leading agribusiness company with a global commitment to testing and developing gene stacks in corn, soybean, sugarcane and other crops, Syngenta is an ideal partner,” said Preuss. “Our collaboration with Syngenta allows us to further implement our proprietary technology into applications that will make a difference in meeting global food, feed and fuel challenges."

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