Bayer CropScience and KeyGene today announced that they have entered a multiyear R&D agreement to improve traits in several major agricultural crops. Using KeyGene’s KeySeeQ® discovery pipeline, the companies seek to identify genes associated with novel traits like drought tolerance.

Through this collaboration, the companies will then improve upon novel genes they’ve identified using KeyGene’s high-throughput mutagenesis method, KeyPoint®. From there, Bayer intends to introduce new crop varieties based on global seed market results. The companies will focus their initial efforts on wheat, followed by oilseed rape, rice, and cotton. Financial details about the agreement were not disclosed.

In a statement, David Nicholson, global head of R&D at Bayer CropScience, said that his firm hopes “to offer farmers tailor-made wheat varieties with improved yield and other agronomically important traits including drought tolerance and nitrogen-use efficiency,” adding that “collaborating with KeyGene and having access to their technology will aid us in achieving this.”

KeyGene CEO Arjen van Tunen added that his company has already “generated improved genes for innovative traits, including insect resistance and drought tolerance in various crops,” and that, by working with Bayer, it hopes to “help address the world’s need for enough and high-quality food.”

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