Companies will collaborate on crop insect control

By From page A13 | July 27, 2014

Two heads are better than one.

That’s the conclusion of executives from Marrone Bio Innovations, which develops bio-based pest management and plant health products, and Evogene Ltd., which targets crop productivity.

The two companies have announced a multi-year collaborative agreement to work on novel modes of insect control, followed by the development and commercialization of new insect control products by each of the companies.

The partnership will leverage the expertise of each company in its respective field, namely MBI’s expertise in microbial-based solutions for pest control and plant health, and Evogene’s computational gene discovery capabilities, a news release said.

The companies plan to separately develop and commercialize products, with Evogene focusing on biotechnology insect resistance seeds and MBI developing biologically based insecticides. They have agreed on revenue sharing from all insect control products developed through the collaboration.

The target insects for the collaboration will be lygus hesperus, a sucking insect also known as the Western tarnished plant bug, and spodoptera exigua, a chewing insect commonly known as beet armyworm, each of which causes significant damage to a variety of major crops.

The worldwide damage to crop production due to insects, currently estimated at 20 percent of global yield, is expected to become an even greater problem in coming years, a news release said.

“Among the trends underlying this concern is the fact that the most prominent bio-insecticides and all biotechnology insect-resistant seeds solutions available today consist of ‘modes-of-action’ derived from a single microbial species (Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt),” the news release said.

“These Bt-based solutions are not able to effectively control all types of insects damaging agriculture crops. And for those insects where Bt has been effective, the development of resistance is increasing. In light of this need, the parties will leverage their combined discovery capabilities to identify new ‘modes-of-action’ for insect control, focusing on other microbial species.”

Partial funding for their work will be provided by the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, which supports and encourages cooperation between Israeli and U.S. companies in various areas of technology.

Enterprise staff

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