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Evogene to develop insect-resistant plants

The Israeli biotechnology company, Evogene (Rehovot), is to move into the development of genetically modified insect-resistant crop traits. It is initially targeting corn rootworms (Diabrotica spp) and soybean aphids. The company is to invest some $10 million over the next two years to "expand its knowledge base computational capabilities, testing and validation capabilities". Its biotic stress division will undertake the work using the incorporation of huge amounts of microbial genomic data. Such "big data" are becoming available due to recent advancements in microbial data generation technologies, the company says. CEO and president Ofer Haviv explains the motivation. "The main approach to tackle aphids is applying chemical insecticides, but aphids are developing resistance to such chemicals, [while]… a similar problem with growing resistance is being seen with available corn rootworm control products."

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