Seed World

Ceres Multi-Gene Traits Show a 25 Percent Yield Increase in Corn

Ceres Inc., an agricultural biotechnology company, has announced favorable results from its biotech corn evaluations in China, where a second year of field trials demonstrated significant yield advantages under normal and drought conditions.
Corn provides an additional out-licensing opportunity for traits that Ceres is developing for use in sorghum and other crops. Ceres reports that its multi-gene combinations in corn achieved a 25 percent yield advantage compared to controls in many of its research-scale field evaluations involving two different hybrids. The company has selected its best multi-gene combinations for broader field evaluations in 2015.
“We believe this is an exciting area for value creation,” says Richard Hamilton, Ceres president and CEO. “Our strategy is to focus on optimized gene combinations that can show large, step increases in trait performance.”
Ceres has also developed a new, high-throughput, low-cost approach to empirically evaluate large numbers of promising genes and related control components to select the best combinations for deployment in a crop. The company deploys this multi-gene trait development system internally and believes there might be opportunities to out-license the system, known as iCODE, to other crop biotechnology companies.
“Double-digit percentage increases in highly bred corn hybrids are urgently needed in a crop where a few percentage point increases are the norm,” says Richard Flavell, Ceres chief scientific advisor. “The combining of impactful plant genes with optimized expression patterns, where the best combinations are discovered using the iCODE system pioneered by Ceres, may well provide such increases and shape crop biotechnology for years to come.”