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Evogene Announces Successful Pilot Program Validating New Source of Novel Genes for Plant Trait Improvement

Long Non-Coding RNA ("lncRNA") Demonstrates Key Role in Determining Plant Traits; Evogene Now Validating Dozens of Novel lncRNA Related Genes Under Various Growth Conditions

REHOVOT, ISRAEL -- (Marketwire) -- 11/26/12 -- Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN), a leading developer of improved plant traits for the food, feed and biofuel industries, announced today the successful completion of a two year pilot program for development and validation of a discovery platform targeted at the identification and use of long non-coding RNA ("lncRNA") related genes for plant trait improvement. Initiated during 2011, the pilot program utilized state-of-the-art high throughput sequencing methodologies to produce a vast amount of genomic data. This data was then analyzed using the Company's proprietary computational genomic technologies in order to identify, assemble and characterize novel lncRNAs, their related genes, and their effect on key plant traits. At present, dozens of these lncRNA related genes are being validated by Evogene under various growth conditions.

lncRNA is the largest subgroup within ncRNA and exists in high abundance in plant species. Transcribed from DNA regions, previously known as 'junk DNA', and not coding proteins, these molecules are now recognized as having key roles in determining many of the complex characteristics which play significant roles in plant traits. Therefore lncRNA represents a largely unexplored world of genetic variation both within and between species and provides Evogene with an anticipated additional rich source for novel genes for plant improvement.

Evogene's core capabilities and competitive advantages relate to identification and utilization of genes effecting key plant traits. To date, the source for identification of such genes, for Evogene and in general, for the rest of the industry, has focused on DNA regions that encode for proteins. Although, this research area continues to provide Evogene with substantial opportunities for identifying novel genes, the addition of lncRNA related genes as a further significant new gene source, is anticipated to take Evogene's world leading agbio discovery efforts to a new level.

Four objectives were achieved in the course of the successful pilot program: the creation of a substantial highly accurate lncRNA genomic data base from a number of different plant species; the development of a discovery platform for accurate identification of lncRNAs and related genes from this data base; linking of these lncRNAs to specific plant traits; and experimental proof, through the use of Evogene's model plant validation system, that lncRNA originating from one plant species can significantly affect traits in other plant species.

"As a world leader in developing improved plant traits based on coding genes, which has yielded impressive and growing R&D pipelines of beneficial plant traits for ourselves and our partners, we have now set a goal for Evogene to be a leader in the largely unexplored, but very promising, field of long non-coding RNA as well," stated Dr. Hagai Karchi, Evogene's EVP Development and CTO. "lncRNA is an innovative research field which has great potential for improving key plant traits. Furthermore, we believe this new 'gene reservoir' will provide a substantial opportunity for discovery and beneficial modification of additional plant traits beyond those currently identified, for both internal development and collaboration with our agbio partners."

An Introduction to DNA, Genes and RNA

  • DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) contains the complete "blueprint" for each living organism.
  • Regions of DNA that transcribe (i.e. produce) RNA (ribonucleic acid) are termed "genes".
  • Each RNA can either encode (i.e. produce) a protein (messenger RNA or "mRNA"), or not encode ("ncRNA").
  • ncRNA has various subgroups such as long non-coding RNA ("lncRNA"), micro RNA ("miRNA") and small interfering RNA ("siRNA").
  • The largest subgroup currently known in the plant kingdom is lncRNA.
  • To date, most commercial efforts worldwide has focused on mRNA, the related genes and the resulting proteins.

About Evogene
Evogene is a world leading discoverer and developer of improved plant traits through the use of integrated plant genomics. Combining proprietary state-of-the-art computational genomic technologies with advanced breeding methods, the company's discovery infrastructure provides a complete solution for plant trait improvement to its four market focused operating divisions: Yield and abiotic stress, Biotic stress, Ag-chemicals and Biofuels. In addition to its internal programs, Evogene is collaborating with world leading seed companies to introduce its improved plant traits into key commercial crops under milestone and royalty bearing agreements. Evogene, listed for trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: EVGN), is headquartered in Rehovot, with field operations in Israel, Brazil and Argentina. For additional information, please visit Evogene's website at www.evogene.com

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" relating to future events. These statements may be identified by words such as "may", "expects", "intends", "anticipates", "plans", "believes", "scheduled", "estimates" or words of similar meaning. Such statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions, describe opinions about future events, involve certain risks and uncertainties which are difficult to predict and are not guarantees of future performance. Therefore, actual future results, performance or achievements of Evogene may differ materially from what is expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, many of which beyond Evogene's control, including, without limitation, those risk factors contained in Evogene's reports filed with the Israeli Securities Authority. Evogene disclaims any obligation or commitment to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future events or developments or changes in expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions.

Contact Information
Efrat Barak Zadok
IR&PR Associate
E-mail: Email Contact
Tel: +972-8-931-1940

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