01 November 2023, Israel: Colors Farm Ltd, a cutting-edge company in sustainable aquaculture and biotech and Evogene Ltd. (“Evogene”) (NASDAQ: EVGN, TASE: EVGN), a leading computational biology company aiming to revolutionize life-science product discovery and development, today announced a collaboration with Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a renowned Israeli academic research institution, to develop gene editing technology for crustaceans. This synergistic collaboration will focus on crustaceans — specifically targeting giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), to enhance key traits such as growth rate, disease resistance, and environmental adaptation. The initiative has received a competitive grant from the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), cementing its role as a pioneering endeavor in the realm of precision agriculture.
In the context of an escalating global demand for seafood, this collaboration is both timely and strategic. The global shrimp market, which stood at US$ ~66 billion in 2022, is predicted to increase to US$ ~88 billion by 2028, showcasing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.7% from 2023 to 20281. Concurrently, the global crayfish market, valued at US$ ~16.19 billion in 2023, and is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.5% over the forecast period of 2024-20322. These growing markets are driven by a rising appetite for seafood and an increasing emphasis on sustainable aquaculture practices, making the collaboration exceptionally relevant to meet these demands.
Each partner brings a distinct set of capabilities and expertise to this multi-faceted project: Colors Farm will craft specialized solutions tailored to the gene editing requirements of giant freshwater prawn and white leg shrimp; Evogene will leverage its advanced GeneRator AI tech-engine to provide predictions for optimal guide RNAs (gRNAs), thereby facilitating precise gene editing through CRISPR technology; and Prof. Amir Sagi of Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a world-renowned crustacean researcher, will develop a gene-editing platform for P. clarkii and spearhead the research and development process.
By pooling their unique strengths, this collaboration aims to provide a sustainable solution to existing limitations in gene editing for non-model organisms with sparse genomic data and protocols.
Prof. Amir Sagi, Ben-Gurion University: “We are honored to be part of this project. Gene editing is a powerful tool that can enhance the economics and sustainability of crustacean production. We believe this collaboration will lead to significant advances in the aquaculture industry.”
Ran Epstein, CEO of Colors Farm, emphasized the potential impact of gene editing on crustacean production: “This collaboration represents a major step forward for aquaculture. Gene editing has the power to revolutionize crustacean production, and we are excited to work with Evogene and BGU to turn this potential into reality.”
“We are pleased to collaborate with Colors Farm and BGU on this significant endeavor” said Nir Arbel, CPO of Evogene: “Through precise modifications of crustacean genomes, gene editing can enhance desired traits and minimize environmental impact. We believe that through this collaboration Evogene will be able to leverage its knowledge and algorithmic capabilities, developed in its GeneRator AI tech-engine, to design predictive gene editing solutions for organisms that lack complete and exhaustive genomic and proteomic data. We believe this will open up the gene editing market to many additional Agri-tech companies.”
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