THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Jan. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Ceres, Inc. (Nasdaq: CERE), an agricultural biotechnology company, announced today 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 reported that its multi-gene combinations in corn achieved an approximately 25% yield advantage over controls in many of its research-scale field evaluations involving two different hybrids. These replicated field evaluations were conducted in two different climatic regions in China through the company's development collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Field evaluations represent a critical stage in the development of biotech crop traits, as they provide greater insight into how traits may perform in an agricultural setting. The company has selected its best multi-gene combinations for broader field evaluations in 2015.
Ceres President and CEO Richard Hamilton said, "We believe this is an exciting area for value creation. Our strategy is to focus on optimized gene combinations that can show large, step increases in trait performance."
Ceres Chief Scientific Advisor Richard Flavell, PhD, indicated that the strategies behind these results represent an important step forward in crop biotechnology. Ceres has optimized the expression of its novel genes in a more precise and sophisticated manner than is usually the case. In addition, company scientists believe that combining genes together, to either create a stronger trait or combine complementary traits, provides the best approach to generate high impact advantages, such as increased grain yield or drought tolerance.
Ceres also announced that it has developed a new, high-throughput, low-cost approach to empirically evaluate large numbers of promising genes and related control components and to select the best combinations for deployment in a crop. The company is deploying this multi-gene trait development system internally and believes there may 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," said Dr. Flavell. "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."
Ceres has previously out-licensed its genetic technology and genes to other seed companies for use in rice, corn, soybean and sugarbeet, among other crops. The company's field evaluations of its biotech traits in multiple crops have largely confirmed results obtained previously by the company in greenhouse and laboratory settings. Favorable results from a research setting are not a guarantee of future commercial performance, and further evaluations will be necessary to confirm these results in more locations and corn hybrids.
Corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the United States. At today's corn prices and acreage in North America, a 1% increase in yield is worth over a half-billion dollars annually at the farm gate.
Ceres, Inc. is an agricultural biotechnology company that develops and markets seeds to produce crops for bioenergy and other markets that utilize plant biomass. The company combines advanced plant breeding and biotechnology to develop hybrids that can address the limitations of first-generation bioenergy feedstocks. These technology platforms, which can increase crop productivity, improve quality, reduce crop inputs and improve cultivation on marginal land, have broad application across multiple crops, including food, feed, fiber and fuel crops. Ceres markets its seed products under its Blade brand. The company also licenses its biotech traits and technology, including its Persephone genome visualization software, to other organizations.
Ceres Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, including statements regarding Ceres' efforts to develop and commercialize its products, anticipated yields and product performance, status of crop plantings, short-term and long-term business strategies, market and industry expectations, future operating metrics, and future results of operations and financial position, including anticipated cost savings from the company's plan to align expenditures and projected cash expenditures, are forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are, in some cases, beyond Ceres' control. Factors that could materially affect actual results can be found in Ceres' filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Ceres undertakes no obligation to update publicly, except to the extent required by law, any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date the company issues this press release to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in the company's expectations.
SOURCE Ceres, Inc.