Monsanto in pact with Stokes Bio for new gene analysis technology

Biotechnology major Monsanto Company has entered into a licensing and research collaboration agreement with Stokes Bio Limited to accelerate the pace of new advancements in plant breeding.

Under the agreement, Monsanto will have exclusive rights to Stokes Bio's patented technology for use in agriculture, Monsanto said in a release.

In plant breeding, genotyping or gene analysis is used to identify the seeds or plants with the most desirable characteristics, such as better yield or disease resistance, the release said. Currently, gene analysis is limited by the number of samples that can be processed at one time and the turnaround time per sample, it added.

Limerick-based biotechnology firm Stokes Bio utilises microfluidic technology that can provide the same evaluations using much smaller sample sizes - as little as 1/1,000th of what is currently required - which continually flow through the system in nanoliter-size droplets. The instrument can evaluate up to 100,000 data points per hour, making it more efficient than any currently-used methods of gene analysis. It is capable of generating more data in less time, using less sample and reagent, and at a lower cost than existing technologies, Monsanto said.

Stokes Bio will deliver a number of these next-generation genotyping instruments to Monsanto next year.

"Monsanto's strength lies in our robust discovery engine which fuels our industry-leading R&D pipeline," said Bob Reiter, vice president of breeding technology for Monsanto.