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DuPont and Caribou Biosciences announce strategic alliance
DuPont and Caribou Biosciences, a leading developer of CRISPR-Cas technologies for genome editing, jointly announced a strategic alliance in October. As part of the agreement, DuPont and Caribou have cross-licensed their respective patent portfolios, with DuPont receiving exclusive intellectual property rights for CRISPR-Cas technology applications in major row crops, and non-exclusive rights in other agricultural and industrial bioscience applications.

“DuPont intends to lead in the application of CRISPR-Cas technology to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food security. Our alliance with Caribou is now at the forefront of this emerging science and will speed our development of this important platform to create long-term value for our company and our customers,” said James C. Borel, executive vice president, DuPont. “Specifically, we believe CRISPR-Cas has significant potential to advance plant breeding and expand the range of agricultural solutions available to farmers. We look forward to bringing related products to market in the next five to 10 years.”

CRISPR-Cas technology is capable of making exact changes to the DNA of most organisms. In plants, this editing capability can be applied to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance to protect plant health and increase crop yields. It also can provide direct consumer benefits like the removal of food allergens and the improvement of the nutrient composition of plant-derived oils.

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a feature naturally existing in bacteria providing protection against viruses. CRISPR-Cas (CRISPR associated proteins) is one of several CRISPR-derived tools and differs from the natural CRISPR process used to identify and immunize bacteria. The DuPont patent portfolio comprises more than 60 patents and patent applications related to the use of CRISPR for bacteria identification and immunization. It also comprises multiple patent applications related to the CRISPR-Cas genome editing technology.  •

Guelph says farewell to OAC dean Rob Gordon
Rob Gordon, dean of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), has been named vice-president, research, at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He began his appointment November 1.

Gordon was honoured by staff, students, alumni, and agriculture industry partners at a farewell reception in mid-October.

Gordon began his term as OAC dean in 2008 after arriving from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He was reappointed for a five-year term in June 2013. While at U of G, Gordon was commended by colleagues for his vision, energy, and commitment, and for developing excellent working relationships at U of G and with the agri-food sector, government and industry partners, and alumni.

“It has truly been an honour and privilege to be dean of OAC, and I will forever be indebted to what the OAC has provided me both as a student and more recently as dean,” said Gordon, who graduated from U of G with a PhD in 1996. “I’m truly proud of the fact that Ontario’s vibrant and innovative agriculture and agri-food sector is in large part the result of the tremendous educational programs and world-class research conducted through the college,” he said.

Wayne Caldwell, director of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, has been named as interim dean of the OAC effective November 1. A search for a new OAC dean is underway. •

BioAmber Sarnia hits milestone
BioAmber Inc. announced in October that its Sarnia joint venture with Mitsui & Co. Ltd. has begun shipping bio-succinic acid to customers and is operating its manufacturing process at commercial scale, meeting a significant company milestone.

BioAmber has confirmed the performance of its proprietary yeast in the production fermenters in Sarnia. The fermentation performance achieved is significantly above the initial targets set for 2015, and the yield and productivity levels already exceed the targets the plant was designed to hit longer term. The bio-succinic acid being produced is of higher quality than the product previously produced in the demonstration plant located in France.  

Initial shipments have started to customers so they can confirm the quality of the bio-succinic acid produced in the Sarnia plant. Management expects the Sarnia plant to increase production volumes progressively to reach full capacity in 2017. •

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