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Bayer CropScience and Evogene Achieve Genetics Milestone

Rehovot-based Evogene and Bayer CropScience AG whose US headquarters is in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, have reached a milestone in their joint research collaboration in wheat. Utilizing 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 traits 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 utilization of this knowledge to deliver desirable improvements in wheat.

“We want to improve wheat to tackle issues like climate change and the decline of mineral resources used for fertilizer. This research milestone is an important step towards that goal, and will enable us to deliver improved wheat varieties to growers sooner,” said Mathias Kremer, Head of the BioScience business group of Bayer CropScience.

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 fertilizer use efficiency.  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 dataset is being integrated into Evogene’s EvoBreed technology platform to broaden and accelerate the implementation of advanced breeding approaches for wheat.

“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 utilizing 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,”  added Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s CEO.

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