Epigenetic tools start to play a role in the field of crop breeding


Ghent – The research institute VIB-UGent and Bayer CropScience have begun a collaboration to develop crops with higher yields and improved tolerance to stress such as drought or soil salinity. In a first project, the researchers will look at epi­genetic differences between different crop varieties as a basis for selection of new characteristics. In a second step, scientists will computationally analyse the genes that are involved in the response of plants to high-stress situations such as drought. Both research projects are supported financially by the national agency for the promotion of innovation by science and technology (IWT) in Flanders (Belgium). “With the new joint-research project, we are trying to develop epi­genetic control as a new molecular tool for the improvement of agricultural crops,” said Johan Botterman, the head of BioScience Product Research at Bayer CropScience. The researchers are also using computer applications in the study of plant stress tolerance. This project will focus on systems biology. “The aim is to identify the genes and their networks involved in stress tolerance and to validate them experimentally. This should lead to plants with increased yield stability,” said Frank Van Breusegem, Project Leader at VIB-UGent. The study will initially be conducted on Arabidopsis thaliana to accelerate the effects of individual genes and networks of genes. In a later phase, promising genes will be tested in different crops, including those that produce oil-seeds and cereals.



Brussels – Promethera Biosciences has completed a Series B financing round, generating proceeds of €23.6m. The Belgian cell therapy company secured a capital increase of €17m from its new investors, among them the venture arms...



Leuven – Biopharmaceutical company ThromboGenics has entered into an agreement with Alcon Inc., a division of Novartis for the commercialisation of its product ocriplasmin in all markets outside the U.S. ThromboGenics said it...



Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics has announced a financial manoeuvre aimed at getting the biotech out of a hopeless situation. The assets and – more importantly – the liabilities of the drug developer will be acquired by a newly...



Amsterdam - Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics has announced a financial manoeuvre which is aimed to get the biotech out of a dead end. The assets and – more importantly – the liabilities of the drug developer will be acquired by...



Glasgow/Leuven - With a little help from the EU, two biotech companies are banding together to develop the first stem cell therapy against rheumatoid arthritis. UK-based Sistemic will work with TiGenix to develop the Belgian's...



Amsterdam – Two elephants in the biofuels business join forces. Dutch food and chemicals group Royal DSM and POET, LLC, a US-based ethanol producer, announced a plan to build a commercial cellulosic ethanol plant. POET–DSM...



Heerlen - Royal DSM N.V will be the industrial partner to the Panoptes consortium, which aims to develop novel drug delivery technology for the posterior eye segment. The four year project is supported by EUR4m in funding from...



Leiden - Dutch Pharming Group NV has taken a further step to secure sound financing even beyond the recent milestone payments. The drug developer announced that it has entered into a financing of approximately €8.4 million by...



Ghent – Just days after US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer pulled out of a rheumatoid arthritis pact with Ablynx NV, the Belgian biopharmaceutical company expanded its relationship with Merck Serono. Ablynx has now entered into a...

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