Today, Pairwise announced a new five-year partnership with ag giant Bayer after touting milestones resulting from the two companies’ initial collaboration.
According to the gene-editing specialist, the initial partnership – which concluded in June of this year – had seen Pairwise help develop 27 novel traits that were transferred into Bayer’s testing programs. These included developing corn phenotypes with a 20 percent increase in kernel row numbers per ear and gene-edited soy that is more resistant to Asian soybean rust. According to Pairwise, both advances could increase yield and reduce the need for chemical inputs, such as fungicides.
The renewal of the partnership by Bayer is not only a ringing endorsement for Pairwise, but it also signifies the recognition by big ag companies of the need to leverage new tools like gene editing in the face of climate change.
The new companies’ collaboration will focus on optimizing and enhancing gene-edited short-stature corn for use in Bayer’s Preceon Smart Corn system. Short-stature has a targeted height of 30 to 40 percent less than traditional corn, which, according to Bayer, gives additional protection from crop loss due to the changes brought on by climate change, such as warming and extreme winds. Short-stature corn also enables more precise application of inputs during the growing system, resulting in reduced risk of crop loss.
“The shorter stature allows growers to optimize their operations and minimize risk, an ever-increasing concern in the face of climate-related events,” said Pairwise CEO Tom Adams.
In the announcement, Pairwise talks up the newly branded platform they are calling Fulcrum, in which the company essentially gives a brand name to the different gene-editing IP. According to Pairwise, the tools included in the Fulcrum platform include REDRAW, which the company describes as a precise templated editing toolbox that can make any type of small edit at CRISPR-targeted sites, and SHARC, a proprietary enzyme that “works well for cutting, base editing, and REDRAW editing, a combination that’s created a foundational, game-changing genome editing toolkit.”