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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev signs collaborative contract with Bayer CropScience

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, April 8, 2009 Extreme temperatures and limited water availability are major stresses for plants and cause dramatic losses to agriculture around the world. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has announced the establishment of a research collaboration with Bayer BioScience N.V., a subsidiary of Bayer CropScience based in Ghent, Belgium, to develop solutions to these challenges. The agreement builds upon the expertise and breakthrough results from Dr. Simon Barak's laboratory at the University's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR).

Barak's team is using a combination of approaches to identify genes that allow plants to tolerate the harsh environmental stresses characteristic of arid regions. Two of these genes have been studied in detail and the team found that by removing either of the two genes, the tolerance of the model plant, Arabidopsis, to heat, salt and drought could be increased. This study was published recently in Plant Physiology, an internationally renowned journal.

Signed between BGN Technologies the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Bayer CropScience, the agreement will allow the identification of additional genes that have an effect on making plants more "stress-resistant". Barak, a member of the French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands at the BIDR, noted that the new collaboration will allow his team to further sift through the estimated 30,000 Arabidopsis genes to identify additional candidate stress tolerance genes.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was created to spearhead the development of the Negev desert, a region comprising more than 60% of Israel. The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research is situated in Sede Boker and is a world leader in arid zone research.

BGN Technologies is the Technology Transfer Company of Ben-Gurion University, responsible for the commercialization of know-how and inventions of the University's researchers. Through the development of novel University technologies and creative partnering with industry and investors, BGN brings value to the technological marketplace.

BioScience, one of the three business groups of Bayer CropScience AG, plays a prominent international role in the development and commercialization of seeds and traits for agricultural crops. The company uses plant biotechnology and refinement techniques to develop varieties that are adapted to the requirements of tomorrow's agriculture. BioScience has more that 2100 employees worldwide and is headquartered in Lyon, France.


Contact: Andrew Lavin
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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