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Proof of concept in plants

Evogene's plant validation platform allows high-throughput plant validation of over 1,200 new genes per year, identified through our unique computational technologies. In order to more efficiently predict gene impact on plant performance and prioritize the vast amount of genes discovered, we employ a state-of-the-art, robust array of facilities and techniques.

The plant validation process comprises several steps, beginning with molecular biology and plant transformation and continuing with extensive greenhouse and field trial experiments as well as advanced imaging and data analysis techniques.

In order to assess the effect of candidate genes, identified and sequenced in-silico, they are being cloned and transformed into model plants. Model plants offer a quick and efficient way to assess gene effects, due to their short life cycle, well known genome and ease of cultivation using limited space. Arabidopsis serves as a model plant for dicots. We are also developing brachypodium as our unique model plant for monocots. Brachypodium is a relative of a large number of important crops with a broad range of uses, including food supply and biofuel production, and is therefore an important and informative model plant.
Our molecular biology labs and trasnformation facilities employ cutting-edge and automated equipment, greatly increasing our output.

Evogene's greenhouse and field trial settings allow the monitoring of plants under various conditions. We have developed several unique selection systems, suited for the development of specific traits, such as improving yield under salinity conditions. Specific experiments are designed for each trait under investigation. For example, plants may be cultivated under drought conditions or undergo high-throughput selection in high salinity conditions through proprietary, tailor-made systems. 

 

The great bulk of the validation process is conducted in our greenhouse sites, which include 36 state of the art greenhouses. Each experiment is comprised of tens of genes and hundreds of model plants to allow statistically significant results. Each greenhouse is rigorously controlled for temperature, irrigation and other variables, allowing monitoring and continuous growth all year round.

The effect of candidate genes on plant growth and other parameters, accurately and continuously monitored using an advanced imaging system and data analysis tools. Images are frequently being acquired during the experiment and automatically fed into a statistical analyzing system and results are evaluated by our program managers in order to prioritize the most promising genes.

In addition to experiments done in model plants, certain prioritized genes are introduced into target plants, such as corn and canola, and assessed in field trials. Evogene operates field trial sites in various locations in Israel and works in collaboration with various partners for an even more comprehensive and rapid field testing stage.

Our greenhouse and open field tests, high throughput screening system and imaging analysis tools enable us to validate in plants over 1,200 genes per year! The outcome of the gene validation process is a limited list of leading candidate genes for introduction into elite commercial plants.