Makhteshim Agan and Yissum Partner to Develop a Novel Method for Protecting Plants Using Yeast Isolated From Strawberry Leaves

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 Novel biocontrol agent is environmentally-friendly, non-toxic and effective for a large variety of plants.

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Makhteshim Agan and Yissum Research Development Company, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, today announced the signing of a research and development agreement for the development and commercialization of a novel, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly bio-control method for protecting a variety of plants.

The novel bio-control agent, developed by Dr. Maggie Levy from the Hebrew University’s Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology (Agriculture Faculty), is based on naturally-occurring yeast, Pseudozyma that was isolated from strawberry leaves. Dr. Levy and her team showed that the yeast secretes substances which inhibit the growth of several fungal and bacterial pathogens, thus increasing the plant’s resistance to infestations while enhancing growth.

“We are very happy to strengthen our collaborative endeavours with Makhteshim Agan, a global crop protection leader and a long-time partner of Yissum in developing innovative, environmentally friendly crop protection agents and methods,” said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum. “The novel bio-control agent developed in the lab of Dr. Levy has proven to be non-toxic and highly effective against an impressively wide variety of plant pathogens. Its development and commercialization will therefore serve to reduce the amount of pesticides used in agriculture, for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the environment.”

Pseudozyma, the yeast isolated from strawberry leaves by Dr. Levy and her team, inhibits a broad variety of fungal and bacterial pathogens, and application of the yeast spores significantly inhibited the growth of different fungal causal agents of plant diseases such as powdery mildews (a gray mold that has more than 400 different hosts), crown rust (the black spot disease of cultivated Brassicas) and late wilt disease in corn. Pathogenic bacteria such as Clavibacter michiganensis, the causative agent of bacterial canker of tomato, were also controlled by the yeast.

 

About Yissum

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. was founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Products based on Hebrew University technologies that have been commercialized by Yissum currently generate $2 Billion in annual sales. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies in the world, Yissum has registered over 8,100 patents covering 2,300 inventions; has licensed out 700 technologies and has spun out 80 companies. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Syngenta, Monsanto, Roche, Novartis, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Teva and many more.

 

About Makhteshim Agan

Makhteshim Agan Industries Ltd. is a leading manufacturer and distributor worldwide of crop-protection solutions and the largest off-patent player in the sector. The Company supplies efficient solutions to farmers that assist them in combating disease and increasing yields. In 2012, the Company’s revenues were over $2.83 billion, and it is ranked seventh in the world in the agro-chemicals industry. The Company is characterized by its know-how, high-level technological-chemical abilities, expertise in product registration, and observance of strict standards of environmental protection, stringent quality control and global marketing and distribution channels

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