Biotech Agriculture
12:32 pm
Tue March 8, 2011

Monsanto and Sapphire Energy to collaborate on algal gene research

Monsanto is entering a multi-year research collaboration with San Diego-based Sapphire Energy.

Sapphire specializes in genetically-engineering algae with the goal of producing drop-in replacements for fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The collaboration between Sapphire and Monsanto will focus on identifying genes that positively affect growth in algae and that might also increase agricultural crop yields.

"We face a common goal in looking for ways to improve upon an organism’s ability to achieve greater productivity under optimal and sub-optimal environmental conditions," said Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer. "Together with Sapphire, we can identify genes affecting such traits in algae that might also be applied to corn, cotton, soybeans and other crops."

Under the agreement, Monsanto and Sapphire will collaborate on algae-based research projects, and Monsanto will make an equity investment in Sapphire. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.