DuPont and Athenix are collaborating to develop the next level of insect-resistant trait genes. Under their agreement, DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred will use proprietary insect-resistance trait genes from Athenix to develop and commercialize corn and soybean seed products.

Athenix will focus on microbial screening, molecular biology and genomics to discover gene leads that protect corn and soybeans against insect pests, including corn rootworm, European corn borer, earworms and cutworms. Pioneer researchers will validate and further develop these gene leads through the company's proprietary trait enhancement tools, including gene shuffling.

Under the agreement, Pioneer will have exclusive ownership of novel insect-control genes enhanced through its gene-shuffling technology and the corn and soybean germplasm it develops using Athenix and Pioneer enhanced genes.

Current work is in the research exploratory stage, and the companies have not set specific time lines for product availability. Pioneer expects the new products to complement current product offerings. It says, for example, that traits developed from the research collaboration could complement the insect protection offered by Herculex I and Herculex Xtra, as well as Optimum AcreMax 1 and Optimum AcreMax 2 insect protection program, pending regulatory approval.