Platform designed to improve plant trait efficacy and probability of success of novel seed products by optimizing ‘mode of use’ for genes of interest
Rehovot, Israel – January 29, 2013 – Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN), a leading developer of improved plant traits for the food, feed and biofuel industries, announced today the launch of Gene2Product™ version 1.0, a unique integrated computational platform for improving trait efficacy by high throughput optimization of gene function in the target crop (‘mode of use’) as part of the development process for biotechnology seed products. Evogene has already entered into agreements to utilize Gene2Product™ to optimize the performance of certain genes it has discovered for use in the development pipelines of its partners.
In order to improve the performance of plants, research efforts in the industry have focused primarily on various methodologies to identify the genes that influence the traits of interest, such as yield, drought tolerance, resistance to pests, etc. However, the actual efficacy achieved in the field depends not only on the presence or absence of the gene of interest, but on its optimization with other factors related to the mode of use of such gene. Such factors include: the choice of gene variant for the crop of interest, its interactions with other genes, the tissues in which it is expressed, its level and/or pattern of expression, its performance under changing environmental conditions, and other factors.
The Gene2Product™ Platform 1.0 provides a robust and high throughput analysis of a large number of genes in parallel in order to optimize their modes of use in the end product. This is accomplished through the use of four interconnected sub-platforms, with the fourth of these sub-platforms targeted for incorporation later this year. Each of these sub-platforms relies on the use of computational modules incorporating advanced algorithms to analyze enormous amounts of relevant data from both public and proprietary sources, with a current comprehensive database in excess of 250 terabytes and growing. This database includes more than 10 different genomic and phenotypic data types originating from over 200 different plant species.
The sub-platforms incorporated in the Gene2Product™ Platform are as follows:
- PlaNet (Plant Network) – Improves trait efficacy by predicting appropriate gene combinations, referred to in the seed industry as “gene stacking”. Multi-gene stacking is expected to be a key solution for increasing trait efficacy when approaching complex traits, such as yield, which is an emerging need in the industry. The PlaNet sub-platform is designed to provide a set of genes predicted to jointly impact the trait when stacked, utilizing multiple interaction data layers across multiple species.
Through the simulation of efficacy, scoring and subsequent ranking of millions of possible multiple gene interactions for a gene of interest, possible stacking combinations are prioritized with respect to their predicted ability to improve a given trait. This sub-platform utilizes, in addition to the enormous amounts of plant data, vast amounts of relevant protein interaction data from other species such as yeast.
- GeneSpec (Gene Spectrum) – Improves trait efficacy by selecting the preferred functional gene variant for each gene of interest for the crop of interest. The GeneSpec sub-platform analyzes the entire gene variation spectrum (i.e. orthologous, alleles, etc.) for the gene of interest and selects the minimal number of variants representing the entire molecular functional divergence of the gene spectrum across species. This involves the identification and classification of up to 1,000 possible variants per gene through the use of novel algorithms, according to sequence-function and other relationships. Following this, the sub-platform utilizes additional novel algorithms to prioritize the variants in each group according to their predicted ability to affect the trait of interest.
- RePack (Regulation Package) – Improves trait efficacy by predicting the regulation mode for the gene of interest that will provide the optimal expression pattern. This includes prediction of where in the plant expression would be beneficial and where it would be undesired in respect of tissue, organ, timing, level of expression and other aspects that can impact trait efficacy. The RePack sub-platform uses advanced visualization tools and algorithms to provide insights from various plant species on the expression patterns for a specific gene and its orthologs in specific tissue, treatment and development stage in order to predict the optimal expression pattern for the gene to improve the trait of interest in the target crop.
- GeneDex (Gene Index) – Targeted for incorporation in Gene2ProductTM during 2013, GeneDex is designed to improve trait efficacy by predicting functional robustness of a gene across different genetic backgrounds (i.e. germplasms) and environmental conditions. GeneDex will provide multiple relative index scores for each gene predicting such gene’s contributions with respect to each trait of interest across different combinations of such variables.
“We have been extremely pleased by the rapid recognition and appreciation of our ATHLETETM gene discovery platform by leading AgBio companies, as evidenced by our large and growing number of collaborations with such companies for the most important food crops worldwide. Now, with the addition of our complementary Gene2Product™ computational platform, we see the opportunity to achieve very substantial improvement in utilizing these discoveries for both greater trait efficacy and probability of success with biotechnology seed products”, stated Dr. Hagai Karchi, Evogene’s EVP Development and CTO.
Mr. Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s President and CEO added: “We are pleased to report that Gene2Product™ has been successfully implemented in certain of our in-house programs and in our on-going research and development collaboration with Monsanto Company and other partners. Furthermore, we believe it will become a ‘must have’ component in all of our plant improvement activities.”
Evogene is a world leading discoverer and developer of improved plant traits through the use of integrated plant genomics. Combining proprietary state-of-the-art computational genomic technologies with advanced breeding methods, the company’s discovery infrastructure provides a complete solution for plant trait improvement to its four market focused operating divisions: Yield and abiotic stress, Biotic stress, Ag-chemicals and Biofuels. In addition to its internal programs, Evogene is collaborating with world leading seed companies to introduce its improved plant traits into key commercial crops under milestone and royalty bearing agreements. Evogene, listed for trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: EVGN), is headquartered in Rehovot.
For additional information, please visit Evogene’s website at www.evogene.com
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” relating to future events. These statements may be identified by words such as “may”, “expects”, “intends”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “believes”, “scheduled”, “estimates” or words of similar meaning. Such statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions, describe opinions about future events, involve certain risks and uncertainties which are difficult to predict and are not guarantees of future performance. Therefore, actual future results, performance or achievements of Evogene may differ materially from what is expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, many of which beyond Evogene’s control, including, without limitation, those risk factors contained in Evogene’s reports filed with the Israeli Securities Authority. Evogene disclaims any obligation or commitment to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future events or developments or changes in expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions.
Director of IR&PR