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October 7, 2013 10:13 pm

Israelis Develop New Pesticide From Strawberry Leaves

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Yissum Research Development Company, Hebrew University’s Technology Transfer Arm, and Israeli crop-protection company Makhteshim Agan partnered to develop and market a non-toxic and environmentally-friendly bio-control method for protecting  plants based on a yeast isolated from strawberry leaves.

In a joint statement, the companies said the novel bio-control agent, developed by Dr. Maggie Levy from the Hebrew University’s Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, 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 a plant’s resistance to infestations while enhancing growth. The product would 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,” said 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,” Shabtai said.

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. was founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies in the world, Yissum has registered over 8,100 patents covering 2,300 inventions; has licensed out 700 technologies and has spun out 80 companies. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Syngenta, Monsanto, Roche, Novartis, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, and Teva. Products based on Hebrew University technologies have generated $2 billion in annual sales.

Makhteshim Agan Industries Ltd. is a leading manufacturer and distributor worldwide of crop-protection solutions and the largest off-patent player in the sector; globally, the company is ranked seventh in the world in the agro-chemicals industry.

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