September 27, 2011
Bayer CropScience, Evogene's wheat research reaches milestone
Evogene Ltd. and Bayer CropScience AG have achieved a breakthrough in their combined research partnership in wheat.
According to Bloomberg, while utilising Evogene's proprietary tools, more than 200,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms ('SNPs') across the wheat genome were identified as part of the companies' efforts to improve wheat through the application of advanced breeding techniques.
SNPs are single-nucleotide substitutions of one base in the genome and a powerful type of molecular marker for trait improvement. Identifying SNPs across the wheat genome is an essential step towards improving desired traits in wheat through advanced breeding. The wheat genome is both complex and very large, approximately five times the size of the human genome which creates a major challenge for breeders in implementing advanced breeding techniques. The identification of a significant number of SNP markers improves the overall understanding of the wheat genome and therefore facilitates the utilisation of this knowledge to deliver desirable improvements in wheat.
In December 2010, Bayer CropScience and Evogene entered into a five-year collaboration, aimed at accelerating the development and introduction of improved wheat varieties. The collaboration is focusing on improving wheat yield, drought tolerance and fertiliser use efficiency utilising a combination of advanced breeding and state of the art genetic modification methods.
The successful creation of the genome-wide SNP dataset for wheat was enabled by the use of Evogene's proprietary assembly tools and algorithms for highly reliable SNP identification, designed specifically for the wheat genome. Furthermore, the dataset was obtained from a broad collection of wheat lines from multiple locations world-wide. This SNP dataset has significantly boosted the genetic data available for the efforts of the collaboration. This dataset is being integrated into Evogene's EvoBreed technology platform to broaden and accelerate the implementation of advanced breeding approaches for wheat.
"We want to improve wheat to tackle issues like climate change and the decline of mineral resources used for fertiliser," said
Mathias Kremer, Head of the BioScience business group of Bayer CropScience. "This research milestone is an important step towards that goal, and will enable Bayer CropScience to deliver improved wheat varieties to growers sooner."
Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President & Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are very proud of this technological breakthrough, which we achieved in a relatively short period. The identification of the SNPs is a key to enhancing native traits utilising genomics-guided, efficient and precise breeding tools. Our newly-discovered SNP dataset significantly expands our understanding of the wheat genome, which we anticipate will facilitate our joint work with Bayer CropScience to introduce improved wheat varieties."
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of healthcare, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR6.83 billion (US$9.25 billion) (2010), is one of the world's leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 20,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries.
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. The company focuses on utilising its proprietary computational genomic technologies to provide a complete solution for plant trait improvement through combining state of the art biotechnology and advanced breeding methods.