Newswise — St. LOUIS, MO, April 19, 2017 – Edison Agrosciences, an agricultural biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing innovative solutions for the production of plant-based industrial materials, has licensed technology from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the world’s largest independent non-profit plant science research institute, to enhance its ability to identify high-value gene candidates to improve natural rubber content in crops.

The St. Louis-based company with a laboratory located in the Helix Center is focused on using biotechnology to produce economical amounts of natural rubber from sunflower, which is currently grown on nearly two million acres in the United States. The company has assembled a top tier team, raised a seed round of financing, and is currently expanding its capability to identify and evaluate genes to substantially increase naturally produced rubber in sunflower.

“Edison is excited to be able to utilize technology developed by the Danforth Center to enhance our ability to identify genes of interest and speed technology development,” according to Tom Christensen, Edison’s CEO.

The licensed technology includes HAYSTACK software developed by a team of scientists at the Danforth led by Todd Mockler, Ph.D., Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator. HAYSTACK is a tool for mining large gene expression data sets by searching for specific user-defined patterns of expression. HAYSTACK is designed to find rare occurrences of very specific patterns in large data sets and provides an alternative method for clustering expression profiling data by grouping genes whose expression patterns match the same or similar HAYSTACK models.

“The software tools we’ve licensed to Edison Agrosciences will enable mining of large gene expression data sets to accelerate Edison’s capability to identify and evaluate candidate rubber biosynthetic pathway genes,” said Mockler. “I’m happy to collaborate with Edison and apply our genomics and informatics capabilities to the challenge of improving sustainable natural rubber production.”

Edison Agrosciences is developing a solution to engineer yield improvements and take advantage of the growing market of alternative rubber crops. Natural rubber is a nearly $50 billion global business. Current production of natural rubber from rubber trees in Southeast Asia is rapidly becoming economically and environmentally unsustainable. Edison’s technology will enable sustainable production of natural rubber using sunflowers, a robust short season crop that can be grown in many regions and environments.

About The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education and outreach aim to have impact at the nexus of food security and the environment, and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  To keep up to date with Danforth Center’s current operations and areas of research, please visit,, featuring information on Center scientists, news and the “Roots & Shoots” blog. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter. 

About Edison Agrosciences Edison Agrosciences is an agricultural biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing innovative solutions for the production of plant-based industrial materials, with a primary focus on the development of alternative rubber crops. We are engineering yield improvements and the novel production of industrial materials in suitable plant systems. Edison has an emerging IP portfolio covering multiple technical strategies and we are developing strategic partnerships to mitigate the risk of pilot scale crop and product validation. Edison’s strong leadership team has a track record of success in industry.




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