Colors Farm, Evogene and Ben-Gurion University Collaborate to Establish Crustacean Gene Editing Technology

Colors Farm, Evogene and Ben-Gurion University Collaborate to Establish Crustacean Gene Editing Technology

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Leveraging a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority, the alliance sets out to improve crustacean traits including growth rate, disease resistance, and environmental adaptation.

Colors Farm, a cutting-edge company in sustainable aquaculture and biotech and Evogene, a leading computational biology company aiming to revolutionize life-science product discovery and development announced a collaboration with Ben-Gurion University (BGU), a renowned Israeli academic research institution, to develop gene editing technology for crustaceans.

This synergistic collaboration will focus on crustaceans — specifically targeting giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), white leg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), to enhance key traits such as growth rate, disease resistance, and environmental adaptation.

The initiative has received a competitive grant from the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), cementing its role as a pioneering endeavor in the realm of precision agriculture. “We are honored to be part of this project. Gene editing is a powerful tool that can enhance the economics and sustainability of crustacean production. We believe this collaboration will lead to significant advances in the aquaculture industry,” said Amir Sagi, professor of Ben-Gurion University.

Colors Farm, Evogene and Ben-Gurion University Collaborate to Establish Crustacean Gene Editing Technology

In the context of an escalating global demand for seafood, this collaboration is both timely and strategic. The global shrimp market, which stood at USD 66 billion in 2022, is predicted to increase to proximally USD 88 billion by 2028, showcasing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.7% from 2023 to 20281. Concurrently, the global crayfish market, valued at USD 16.19 billion in 2023, and is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.5% over the forecast period of 2024-2032.

These growing markets are driven by a rising appetite for seafood and an increasing emphasis on sustainable aquaculture practices, making the collaboration exceptionally relevant to meet these demands.

Three partners for one goal

Each partner brings a distinct set of capabilities and expertise to this multi-faceted project: Colors Farm will craft specialized solutions tailored to the gene editing requirements of giant freshwater prawn and white leg shrimp; Evogene will leverage its advanced GeneRator AI tech-engine to provide predictions for optimal guide RNAs (gRNAs), thereby facilitating precise gene editing through CRISPR technology.

For his part, the world-renowned crustacean researcher Sagi will develop a gene-editing platform for P. clarkii and spearhead the research and development process.

By pooling their unique strengths, this collaboration aims to provide a sustainable solution to existing limitations in gene editing for non-model organisms with sparse genomic data and protocols.

Evogene is a computational biology company leveraging big data and artificial intelligence, aiming to revolutionize the development of life-science based products by utilizing cutting-edge technologies to increase the probability of success while reducing development time and cost.

Revolutionize crustacean production

Ran Epstein, CEO of Colors Farm, emphasized the potential impact of gene editing on crustacean production: “This collaboration represents a major step forward for aquaculture. Gene editing has the power to revolutionize crustacean production, and we are excited to work with Evogene and BGU to turn this potential into reality,” he said.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Colors Farm and BGU on this significant endeavor” said Nir Arbel, CPO of Evogene: “Through precise modifications of crustacean genomes, gene editing can enhance desired traits and minimize environmental impact. We believe that through this collaboration Evogene will be able to leverage its knowledge and algorithmic capabilities, developed in its GeneRator AI tech-engine, to design predictive gene editing solutions for organisms that lack complete and exhaustive genomic and proteomic data. We believe this will open up the gene editing market to many additional Agri-tech companies.”

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