$2.3M Research deal

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The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd (ACPFG) has signed a major research agreement with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc, a Du Pont company, based in Iowa, US. The agreement brings $2.3 million in research funding to Australia, offering the Australian grains industry an opportunity to access the best international crop science available.

"This deal is our first major agreement with a large US commercial company," says ACPFG chief executive Professor Peter Langridge. "It is a great achievement."

Pioneer Hi-Bred International is one of the world"s largest maize breeding companies. The deal gives the ACPFG global rights to research outcomes in wheat and barley, while Pioneer will have rights to outcomes in maize and soybean.

Since it was founded in 2002 - with funds from the GRDC in conjunction with the Australian Research Council and the South Australian Government - the ACPFG has amassed a world-class team of scientists. At least a dozen new scientists are now expected to join the 100-strong team.

"The GRDC was a key visionary in advocating our corporate structure," says general manager Michael Gilbert. "We are able to conclude deals like this one in a streamlined, efficient way. The structure is attractive for potential partners."

Improving plants" ability to cope with abiotic (environmental) stresses, such as drought, is a major target of the new collaboration. Three projects have been identified so far. The first will research nitrogen-use efficiency. The second will investigate how crops resist storm damage and how cellulose can be used, as a residue in straw, as an animal feed or a biofuel. The third will focus on drought tolerance.

The GRDC has a 26 per cent shareholding in the ACPFG.

GRDC Research Code ACP00001
For more information: Peter Langridge, 08 8303 7368