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Evogene and Biogemma Show Increased Corn Yield in Field Trials

09/12/2008

Corn Containing Evogene Discovered Genes Show Significant Yield Increases under Both Normal and Drought Conditions

Rehovot, Israel and Paris, France, December 9, 2008 – Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN) and Biogemma SAS,  today announced results of field trials for corn hybrids containing a number of  genes  predicted by Evogene to increase yield and drought tolerance. The field trials, conducted in several sites in the United States and in Israel, demonstrate that corn hybrids containing certain of these genes displayed significant yield increases under both normal and drought conditions compared to control corn hybrids under the same conditions. Evogene and Biogemma intend to expand their efforts to further evaluate the best performing of these genes in corn through additional field trials during 2009, aimed at selection of the most suitable candidates for the next phase of development towards commercialization. 

The field trials for which results are now being reported were conducted as part of a collaboration initiated in 2006 between Evogene and Biogemma to develop corn with improved yield and tolerance to drought conditions. This collaboration is financially supported by the Eureka, a pan-European network for market-oriented industrial R&D.

Included in the field trials were Evo133 and Evo137, two genes predicted by Evogene in 2003 to improve yield and drought through the use of its computational technology platform, the 'ATHLETE', and subsequently validated in model plants. These genes were introduced and expressed in corn utilizing Biogemma’s technologies. These positive results in corn follow Evogene's announcement of December 2007 of field trial results for Evo133 demonstrating significant yield improvements in tomato plants under both normal and stress conditions.

Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s President and CEO stated, "We are extremely pleased by these successful results from this first field trial of Evogene discovered genes in one of the most important crops worldwide for both food and alternative energy uses. Also, in addition to the potential value represented by these genes for corn and other crops, this is a significant milestone for our company in the validation of the ability of our unique in silico discovery platform - the 'ATHLETE' – to accurately predict and select genes associated with important traits of interest in agbio.  Therefore, we enthusiastically look forward to continuing our joint efforts with Biogemma in corn and with our other partners, as we move forward with both further gene discovery and the validation of Evogene discovered genes in important target crops.” 

Pascual Perez, CEO for Biogemma stated, “We are very happy with these first year field trials showing important preliminary results for yield improvement under normal and drought conditions. Next year's experiments which will be done in more geographic locations are looked with high interest. Our corn genetic transformation pipeline and its specific proprietary technologies  has allowed Biogemma to quickly and properly assess Evogene’s leads in different hybrid backgrounds within  two years of the initiation of our fruitful collaboration. When the collaboration was initiated in 2006, combining Biogemma’s and Evogene’s expertise seemed extremely promising and we see today that the good complementary skills , the two companies’ know how and IP portfolio open the way to develop commercial improved corn for our shareholders. Biogemma will continue to rely on its efficient transgenic platforms for corn and wheat, to give value to the genes discovered on our genomic platforms or developed in partnerships.“ 

About Evogene

Evogene is a world leading developer of improved plant traits. The company’s proprietary product development platform combines state of the art computational gene discovery technology (The 'ATHLETE'), plant and field validation capabilities and unique selection systems. Evogene's current programs focus on the improvement of key plant traits, such as yield and stress tolerance, and the improvement of plants specifically for biofuel uses. Evogene has collaboration and licensing agreements with world leading companies in the agro-biotech and alternative energy industries. Evogene's headquarters are in Rehovot, Israel, and its stock is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE:EVGN). For additional information, please visit Evogene’s website at www.evogene.com

About Biogemma

Biogemma is a leading biotech company in Europe involved in Genomics applied to Field crops. Result of the merger of the biotech activity of three major seed business companies, Vilmorin Company ( Limagrain Group), Euralis and RAGT and with the help of two financial institutions Sofiproteol and Unigrain with the support of the technical agency Arvalis , the company is developing R&D programs with its partners, in field crops ( Corn, Wheat, Sunflower and Rapeseed ), focused on yield improvement, biotic and abiotic stresses and specialty grain compounds.  

Press releases for 2008