JOHNSTON, IOWA, U.S. – DuPont Pioneer and Evogene Ltd have entered into a multi-year collaboration. The scope of the agreement includes the research and development of microbiome-based seed treatments in corn. The goal of the collaboration is to provide farmers with innovative bio-stimulant seed treatment products that protect and maximize corn yield by leveraging each other’s relevant market-leading technologies.

Under the terms of the agreement, DuPont will provide access to its extensive seed treatment application technology and product development expertise. Evogene will apply its predictive computational biology platform to decipher plant/microbiome interactions along with its microbial formulation and fermentation technologies. The combination of these key capabilities increases the opportunity to fully activate the potential of the emerging field of microbiome-based seed treatment products.

“This is an important step forward in our efforts to discover, develop and provide advanced seed-applied technologies,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, Research & Development, DuPont Pioneer. “Our relationship with Evogene is consistent with our history of collaboration to advance science-based customer solutions and our open innovation strategy.”

Ag-biologicals represent a growing approach for driving agriculture productivity and are increasingly adopted by farmers to complement the existing solutions of improved seed traits and crop protection chemistry. The bio-stimulant market is an evolving segment with immense potential and estimated by MarketsandMarkets in 2016 at over $1.6 billion with a projected annual growth rate of approximately 10%.

"We believe microbiome-based biologicals will be an important and valuable tool for farmers in driving agricultural productivity,” said Ofer Haviv, Evogene's president and chief executive officer. “Evogene’s biological predictive technology platform drives research and development of such novel ag-biological solutions and generates significant positive outcomes. We are extremely pleased and proud to collaborate with agriculture leader DuPont Pioneer – a collaboration which will improve our potential for success and reduce our time to market.”

Microbiomes are microbial communities that reside on or within the plant's immediate microbial environment and play a significant role in plant health. According to Dupont, bio-stimulants are agricultural biologic products, which increase crop yield and resilience to environmental (abiotic) stress by enhancing desirable plant characteristics and promoting efficient use of nutrient inputs.

By leveraging the understanding of the complex plant/microbiome interaction, the parties will work to develop a next generation of bio-stimulant products aimed at demonstrating high standards for performance and consistency criteria across a range of corn varieties and global locations. Product development efforts under the collaboration will utilize, as a starting point, Evogene’s proprietary microbe combinations which are already identified and validated in field testing to have significant positive impact on key crop characteristics, including yield productivity as previously disclosed by Evogene in 2016.

The multi-year collaboration has an extension option if certain milestones are met. Pioneer will obtain worldwide marketing rights for any products, with milestone payments and royalties to be paid to Evogene. Specific financial terms and additional details of the agreement were not disclosed.