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KeyGene, the Green Gene revolution goes America


May 2010

KeyGene is the largest European Agro Biotech company and decided in 2007 to found a subsidiary in the USA, Keygene Inc. KeyGene’s Green Gene approach is to focus on the use of Advanced Molecular Breeding & Molecular Mutagenesis to genetically improve traits of commercial interest in the 6F (food, feed, fiber, fuel, flowers and fun) crops. Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, Keygene Inc., was setup to expand on KeyGene’s excellent crop breeding research. An Michiels, CEO Keygene Inc.: “We saw the opportunities in Applied Systems Biology and Plant Breeding that are present in the US, and wanted to extend our collaboration with American research institutes, universities and companies”.

Investing in existing relationships

An Michiels:”KeyGene is a developer of new breeding technologies and we have been involved in several collaborations in the US over the past 20 years. Our subsidiary in the US brings KeyGene closer to several of its partners, improves our relations and fine tunes the collaborations even further”. In May 2008, KeyGene started a long-term collaborative program with the Beltsville Agricultural Research Service unit of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS). In this program KeyGene’s advanced genetic fingerprinting technology is used in combination with USDA’s metabolomics and breeding expertise. This program has the aim to develop bell pepper cultivars with improved taste characteristics.

The staff

Scientific excellence

Maryland is a hub of molecular biology and biotechnology research. KeyGene not only benefits from this, but also contributes to the excellent research in this region as well. With KeyGene’s advanced molecular breeding technologies accelerating the crop breeding research, we attract excellent scientists in the field of applied systems biology and bioinformatics. For instance Anne Deslattes-Mays and her group is developing new information and bioinformatics computer programs, algorithms and selection procedures to identify potential candidate genes and gene networks from Brassica napus and Maize that are involved in yield increase and abiotic stresses.

New corporate partnerships and future traits

KeyGene also aims at developing new partnerships. Combining its expertise and knowledge of the Dutch site with the experience in bioinformatics and data analysis of Keygene Inc., the company is an excellent partner for new collaborations seeking excellence in plant breeding. With programs like ‘Dare to Share’, KeyGene has experience with knowledge sharing in research collaborations. The start of the US subsidiary already resulted in a number of fruitful relationships and Keygene Inc. aspires engaging new collaborations, not only in the US public sector but also in the private breeding industry. In January 2010, KeyGene entered in a trait development agreement with AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, to asses the use of Zinc Fingers to improve the yield of tomatoes. Today KeyGene’s US division has grown to 7 employees, a number which will definitely increase in the future. The company has an ever increasing expertise in bioinformatics. In the coming years, KeyGene’s portfolio will expand towards other field crops like sunflower and wheat. Traits like draught resistance and insect or viral resistance will become increasingly important. An Michiels: “We will further develop our expertise in Applied Systems Biology and data analysis thus actively contributing to the Green Gene Revolution”.

For more information please contact:

An Michiels
Keygene Inc.
Rockville Innovation Center – Suite 405
155 Gibbs Street
Rockville, MD 20850, USA
T +1 240 205 7083

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