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Makhteshim Agan And Yissum Partner To Develop A Novel Method For Protecting Plants Using Yeast Isolated From Strawberry Leaves

TEL AVIV and JERUSALEM, Israel, October 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Makhteshim Agan, the world leader in crop protection solutions and Yissum Research Development Company, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today announced the signing of a research and development agreement for the development and commercialization of a novel, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly bio-control method for protecting a variety of plants.

The novel bio-control agent, developed by Dr. Maggie Levy from the Hebrew University's Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology (Agriculture Faculty), is based on naturally-occurring yeast, Pseudozyma that was isolated from strawberry leaves. Dr. Levy and her team showed that the yeast secretes substances which inhibit the growth of several fungal and bacterial pathogens, thus increasing the plant's resistance to infestations while enhancing growth.

"We are very happy to strengthen our collaborative endeavours with Makhteshim Agan, a global crop protection leader and a long-time partner of Yissum in developing innovative, environmentally friendly crop protection agents and methods," said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum. "The novel bio-control agent developed in the lab of Dr. Levy has proven to be non-toxic and highly effective against an impressively wide variety of plant pathogens. Its development and commercialization will therefore serve to reduce the amount of pesticides used in agriculture, for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the environment."

"We are excited to be able to leverage the technology, experience and know-how that we have amassed over the past decades in order to collaborate and create new generations of highly effective and environmentally safe  crop protection solutions," added Mr Sami Shabtai, Makhteshim Agan's Head of Innovative Development. "In a world challenged by the double-edged sword of rapid population growth and shrinking agricultural resources, the need for sustainable solutions is clearer than ever. We are proud to be part of the solution and look forward to working with Yissum to continue introducing new innovate products and to make them available throughout the world."

Pseudozyma, the yeast isolated from strawberry leaves by Dr. Levy and her team, inhibits a broad variety of fungal and bacterial pathogens, and application of the yeast spores significantly inhibited the growth of different fungal causal agents of plant diseases such as powdery mildews (a gray mold that has more than 400 different hosts), crown rust (the black spot disease of cultivated Brassicas) and late wilt disease in corn. Pathogenic bacteria such as Clavibacter michiganensis, the causative agent of bacterial canker of tomato, were also controlled by the yeast.

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