Leveraging a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority, the alliance sets out to improve crustacean traits including growth rate, disease resistance, and environmental adaptation
Hazeva and Rehovot, Israel – October 31, 2023 – Colors Farm Ltd, a cutting-edge company in sustainable aquaculture and biotech and Evogene Ltd. (“Evogene”) (NASDAQ: EVGN, TASE: EVGN), a leading computational biology company aiming to revolutionize life-science product discovery and development, today announced a collaboration with Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a renowned Israeli academic research institution, to develop gene editing technology for crustaceans. This synergistic collaboration will focus on crustaceans — specifically targeting giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), to enhance key traits such as growth rate, disease resistance, and environmental adaptation. The initiative has received a competitive grant from the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), cementing its role as a pioneering endeavor in the realm of precision agriculture.
In the context of an escalating global demand for seafood, this collaboration is both timely and strategic. The global shrimp market, which stood at US$ ~66 billion in 2022, is predicted to increase to US$ ~88 billion by 2028, showcasing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.7% from 2023 to 20281. Concurrently, the global crayfish market, valued at US$ ~16.19 billion in 2023, and is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.5% over the forecast period of 2024-20322. These growing markets are driven by a rising appetite for seafood and an increasing emphasis on sustainable aquaculture practices, making the collaboration exceptionally relevant to meet these demands.
Each partner brings a distinct set of capabilities and expertise to this multi-faceted project: Colors Farm will craft specialized solutions tailored to the gene editing requirements of giant freshwater prawn and white leg shrimp; Evogene will leverage its advanced GeneRator AI tech-engine to provide predictions for optimal guide RNAs (gRNAs), thereby facilitating precise gene editing through CRISPR technology; and Prof. Amir Sagi of Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a world-renowned crustacean researcher, will develop a gene-editing platform for P. clarkii and spearhead the research and development process.
By pooling their unique strengths, this collaboration aims to provide a sustainable solution to existing limitations in gene editing for non-model organisms with sparse genomic data and protocols.
Prof. Amir Sagi, Ben-Gurion University: “We are honored to be part of this project. Gene editing is a powerful tool that can enhance the economics and sustainability of crustacean production. We believe this collaboration will lead to significant advances in the aquaculture industry.”
Ran Epstein, CEO of Colors Farm, emphasized the potential impact of gene editing on crustacean production: “This collaboration represents a major step forward for aquaculture. Gene editing has the power to revolutionize crustacean production, and we are excited to work with Evogene and BGU to turn this potential into reality.”
“We are pleased to collaborate with Colors Farm and BGU on this significant endeavor” said Nir Arbel, CPO of Evogene: “Through precise modifications of crustacean genomes, gene editing can enhance desired traits and minimize environmental impact. We believe that through this collaboration Evogene will be able to leverage its knowledge and algorithmic capabilities, developed in its GeneRator AI tech-engine, to design predictive gene editing solutions for organisms that lack complete and exhaustive genomic and proteomic data. We believe this will open up the gene editing market to many additional Agri-tech companies.”
Evogene Ltd. (Nasdaq: EVGN, TASE: EVGN) is a computational biology company leveraging big data and artificial intelligence, aiming to revolutionize the development of life-science based products by utilizing cutting-edge technologies to increase the probability of success while reducing development time and cost.
Evogene established three unique tech-engines – MicroBoost AI, ChemPass AI and GeneRator AI. Each tech-engine is focused on the discovery and development of products based on one of the following core components: microbes (MicroBoost AI), small molecules (ChemPass AI), and genetic elements (GeneRator AI).
Evogene uses its tech-engines to develop products through strategic partnerships and collaborations, and its five subsidiaries including:
- Biomica Ltd. (www.biomicamed.com) developing and advancing novel microbiome-based therapeutics to treat human disorders powered by MicroBoost AI;
- Lavie Bio (www.lavie-bio.com) – developing and commercially advancing, microbiome based ag-biologicals powered by MicroBoost AI;
- AgPlenus Ltd. (www.agplenus.com) -developing next generation ag chemicals for effective and sustainable crop protection powered by ChemPass AI;
- Canonic (www.canonicbio.com) – developing medical cannabis products based on decoding plant genetics for optimized therapeutic effect powered by GeneRator AI; and
- Casterra Ag (www.casterra.co)– developing and marketing superior castor seed varieties producing high yield and high-grade oil content, on an industrial scale for the biofuel and other industries powered by GeneRator AI.
For more information, please visit: www.evogene.com.
Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains “forward-looking statements” relating to future events. These statements may be identified by words such as “may”, “could”, “expects”, “hopes” “intends”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “believes”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “demonstrates” or words of similar meaning. For example, Evogene and its subsidiaries are using forward-looking statement in this press release when it discusses the sucess of the collaboration to enhance key traits such as growth rate, disease resistance, and environmental adaptation, the expected increase of the global shrimp market and global crayfish market, the potential impact of gene editing on crustacean production and the to ability to design predictive gene editing solutions for organisms that lack complete and exhaustive genomic and proteomic data. Such statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions, describe opinions about future events, involve certain risks and uncertainties which are difficult to predict and are not guarantees of future performance. Therefore, actual future results, performance or achievements of Evogene and its subsidiaries may differ materially from what is expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the control of Evogene and its subsidiaries, including, without limitation, the current war between Israel and Hamas and any worsening of the situation in Israel such as further mobilizations or escelation in the northen boarder of Israel, and those risk factors contained in Evogene’s reports filed with the applicable securities authority. In addition, Evogene and its subsidiaries rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties to conduct certain activities, such as their field-trials and pre-clinical studies, and if these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties, comply with regulatory requirements or meet expected deadlines, Evogene and its subsidiaries may experience significant delays in the conduct of their activities. Evogene and its subsidiaries disclaim any obligation or commitment to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future events or developments or changes in expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions.
Rachel Pomerantz Gerber
Head of Investor Relations at Evogene