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BUSINESS & PATENTS: Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics receives Eurasian patent for GE salinity tolerance



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   PATENT TO BE GRANTED FOR SALINITY TOLERANCE TECHNOLOGY

SOURCE:  Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, Australia (ACPFG)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1297763812-Salinity Patent Release final.pdf

DATE:    10.02.2011

SUMMARY: "The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics? first patent application has been accepted for grant in Eurasia. The patent covers salinity tolerance in plants and applies in Turkmenistan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and the Moldova regions. [...] ?Gene patents are currently controversial but they are an important tool in biological sciences,? Mr Gilbert said. [...] ?Patents are an asset that we can use to deal with large multi-national companies in the area of agricultural biotechnology,? he said."

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PATENT TO BE GRANTED FOR SALINITY TOLERANCE TECHNOLOGY

 

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download the patent application at:

http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/wo.jsp?WO=2010025513&IA=AU2009001154&DISPLAY=STATUS

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The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics? first patent application has been accepted for grant in Eurasia. The patent covers salinity tolerance in plants and applies in Turkmenistan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and the Moldova regions.

The technology was invented by ACPFG scientists Mark Tester, Andrew Jacobs, Juan Juttner, Alfio Comis and Christina Lunde (now of the University of Copenhagen).

The patent is for a protein that sits in a plant cell?s outer membrane and pumps sodium ions from the cell, thus improving the plants salinity tolerance.

?The patent demonstrates that ACPFG research is not only world standard from a scientific perspective, but it also passes the difficult requirements for patentability,? commented CEO, Professor Peter Langridge. ?Some of our other patent filings will also be granted this year.?

?Salinity is a problem in many parts of the world and a major cause of crop loss in much of the developing world,? he said. ?Eurasia is a major crop growing region and also suffers from salinity problems.?

Patent applications for 30 technologies have been filed by the ACPFG since it commenced in 2003. Many of these are working their way through the patent systems in various regions.

?This technology is still many years away from commercial production but this first patent is a significant achievement for ACPFG? said Michael Gilbert, ACPFG?s General Manager.

ACPFG has over 130 staff and students and has published 240 peer-reviewed journal articles focused on improving the ability of wheat and barley to withstand abiotic stresses such as drought and salinity.

?Gene patents are currently controversial but they are an important tool in biological sciences,? Mr Gilbert said. ?Whilst patents are expensive and difficult to get, they enable us to protect the interests of Australian scientists and growers.?

?Patents are an asset that we can use to deal with large multi-national companies in the area of agricultural biotechnology,? he said.

ACPFG retains Philips Ormond Fitzpatrick as patent advisors.

ACPFG scientists are improving cereal crops? tolerance to environmental stresses such as drought, heat, salinity and nitrogen use efficiency. These stresses are a major cause of yield and quality loss throughout the world and cause significant problems for cereal growers. For more information on ACPFG visit www.acpfg.com.au



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   ACPFG GETS SET TO DELIVER

SOURCE:  Australian Life Scientist, Australia

AUTHOR:  Kate McDonald

URL:     http://www.lifescientist.com.au/article/191295/acpfg_gets_set_deliver/

DATE:    15.08.2007

SUMMARY: ""Our focus in the second phase of ACPFG will be more focused on delivery," Gilbert said. "The first phase was really about establishing the foundation research and during that time we've managed to file 17 patent applications. "We have a nice spread of patent applications through salinity, boron toxicity, technology like promoters - we now have quite a strong IP portfolio. And we'll be lodging some applications for field trials, probably in the next 12 months.""

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ACPFG GETS SET TO DELIVER

The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) has secured funding for the next five years, with the South Australian Government awarding an extra $9.3 million on top of the $28 million pledged by the centre's other funders.

It has also recently signed a research agreement with Indian crop genetics and hybrid seed company Vibha Agrotech.

The ACPFG's general manager, Michael Gilbert, said the continued funding would allow it to move into a second phase of development, focused on delivering the results of its foundation research.

"All of our funders have just announced that they will refund us for another five years," Gilbert said.

"We will now have about $37 million for the period 2008 and 2012, which is fabulous. We are particularly pleased with the support we have had from the South Australian Science Minister, Paul Caica, and BioInnovationSA's Jurgen Michaelis through the refunding process."

The centre's primary funders are the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), along with the SA Government, the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and the Universities of Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland.

"Our focus in the second phase of ACPFG will be more focused on delivery," Gilbert said. "The first phase was really about establishing the foundation research and during that time we've managed to file 17 patent applications.

"We have a nice spread of patent applications through salinity, boron toxicity, technology like promoters - we now have quite a strong IP portfolio. And we'll be lodging some applications for field trials, probably in the next 12 months."

In addition, the University of Adelaide is building a new plant accelerator at its Waite campus, which is the ACPFG's headquarters.

"This will be a 4000sqm automatic glass-housing facility with automatic phenotyping, with cameras that can take pictures of things happening on a daily basis," Gilbert said.

The research collaboration with Vibha Agrotech comes on top of similar collaborations with other organisations such as Pioneer Dupont in the US.

The Vibha group, which includes Nusun Genetic Research, Seed Innovations and Centromere Bio-solutions, works in crop improvement research, seed productions and marketing of seeds in 22 agri-horticultural crops.

This year, it launched several Bt cotton hybrids and has developed mid-oleic sunflower hybrids, which produce healthy oil.

"Vibha has a lot of experience in delivering technology, particularly in delivering Bt cotton," Gilbert said. "We see India as a very exciting place. India has similar sorts of issues to Australia - uncertain water, salinity, deteriorating soils - it's a similar story.

"Our main areas of work are in drought tolerance, tolerance to saline soils and other minerals that are toxic to plants. So we see Vibha as a good mechanism for testing and delivering new technologies."

The ACPFG has several research projects with Pioneer in the US, including one looking at lodging, where cereal crops suffer physically from wind or rain pressure. The ACPFG is focusing on understanding the importance of cellulose content in secondary cell walls, which is linked to stem strength.

Other projects the centre is working on include transcript profiling of tolerant and sensitive responses to abiotic stresses, cloning of stress tolerance genes, allele discovery and high-throughput functional gene analysis.