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Monsanto enters into algae-based research with Sapphire Energy

Monsanto and Sapphire Energy are collaborating on research to discover genes in algae that could impact row crop yield and stress tolerance in the future.

Monsanto has announced an agreement to enter into a multi-year collaboration with Sapphire Energy to use algae to discover genes that could impact plant yield and stress tolerance.


San Diego, CA-based Sapphire Energy has been applying synthetic biology to produce “green crude.” Sapphire’s products are made from algae which uses sunlight and carbon dioxide as their feedstock. “Green Crude Production” is low carbon, renewable and scalable, and can be refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, reports Sapphire Energy.  


The collaboration will involve searching for traits that could increase yields in crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops. Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, said that algae can be grown, screened, tested and selected with high throughput tools, which will enable researchers to more quickly identify promising genes.


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

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