Harmful viruses cause millions of dollars damage to the world’s crops.
To address this problem, Syngenta (NYSE: SYT, SIX: SYNN), Ltd and Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd have entered into a collaboration to develop resistance in leading crops for three key viruses.
Nexgen Plants is commercialising a cutting edge virus resistance technology, developed by Professor Peer Schenk’s group at The University of Queensland.
The Nexgen Plants technology is based on the identification of a new class of small plant virus RNA molecules (miRNA) involved in modulating a plant’s defence response to virus attack. This discovery and its associated propagation methods allow selective breeding from germplasm collections, or the introduction of, virus resistance traits into key crops. This offers farmers the potential for improved yields and plant breeding companies a unique competitive advantage for boosting seed and/or plant productivity and sales.
“Crop losses from viral infections are a multi-billion dollar global problem. The Nexgen Plants technology provides plant breeding companies with a range of virus resistance strategies covering transgenic, cisgenic and marker-assisted approaches,” said Nexgen Plant’s CEO, Mr Brian Ruddle.
“The Nexgen technology can confer virus resistance into existing commercial varieties or in parent lines as part of hybrid seed production. Plant viruses would have to develop an extremely unlikely mutation for the resistance to be broken,” Professor Schenk explained.
As part of its commitment to improving crop production, Syngenta is actively working with organisations around the world to improve pest and disease resistance.
“Syngenta was attracted to the Nexgen technology due to the compelling commercially focused science, and the potential to dramatically improve virus resistance characteristics across our breeding programs. The collaboration will further strengthen Syngenta’s position as a leading developer of crop solutions based on
cutting-edge innovations such as RNAi,” said Moshe Bar, head of External Collaborations at Syngenta.
About Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd
Nexgen Plants Pty Ltd was formed in August 2013 on the back of closing a Series A venture round from Yuuwa Capital, Uniseed and UniQuest. The company is implementing an extensive program to demonstrate the virus resistance technology across a broad range of crop and virus types and is progressively engaging with leading plant biotech companies around the world. www.nexgenplants.com
Syngenta is one of the world’s leading companies with more than 28,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us please go to www.syngenta.com.
About Yuuwa Capital
Yuuwa Capital is a $40M early-stage venture capital firm based in Perth, Western Australia. Yuuwa invests in outstanding opportunities where Yuuwa can provide both capital and expertise to help founders, management and early investors build great companies. Yuuwa invests in early stage companies principally in the areas of Life Sciences and Information and Communications Technology. Yuuwa Capital’s formation in 2009 was supported by private investors who work with Candor Financial Management and also by the Australian Federal Government’s Innovation Investment Fund program. For more information, visit www.yuuwa.com.au.
Uniseed is a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland and New South Wales, with investment capital provided by the three universities and AustralianSuper – a leading industry superannuation fund. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of university-generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. For more information, visit www.uniseed.com.
UniQuest Pty Limited is the main commercialisation company of The University of Queensland. UniQuest is Australia’s leading research commercialisation company and has been in business for more than 30 years. For more information visit www.uniquest.com.au.
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