Roche NimbleGen, Inc Partners with Biogemma S.A.S. on the Development of Sequence Capture Technology for Targeted High-Throughput Sequencing of Crop Genomes

Published: Jan 09, 2009

MADISON, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Roche NimbleGen and Biogemma entered into a research agreement which will apply Roche NimbleGen’s array-based Sequence Capture complexity reduction technology to provide targeted re-sequencing of crop plant genomes. The goal of this partnership is to develop new technologies that enable large-scale genomic marker discovery in plants, which will greatly facilitate marker-assisted breeding programs to select the crops with desirable traits that will benefit human lives.

The collaboration will target highly polyploidy plant genomes including wheat and rapeseed (canola). These large polyploid genomes (16 Gbp for hexaploid wheat, 1.2 Gb for canola), necessitate complexity reduction for single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery to target or capture the unique DNA sequences associated with genes of high utility to crop breeders from the majority of insignificant, repetitive DNA sequences present in the genome. Biogemma plans to power their proprietary sequences with NimbleGen technology to accelerate discoveries for the molecular breeding programs of their shareholders. This co-development leverages recent optimizations of Roche NimbleGen’s core Sequence Capture technology for the Genome Sequencer FLX Titanium series sequencing platform from 454 Life Sciences.

According to Gerd Maass, CEO of Roche NimbleGen, “Roche NimbleGen is extremely pleased to partner with Biogemma on the application of Sequence Capture, a revolutionary technology that can target only the DNA sequences of interest to reduce time and cost. This collaboration will expand the understanding of plant genome structure and aid in the research and development of advanced agricultural species to improve food safety, increase productivity, and help improve the quality of life worldwide.”

According to Pascual Perez, CEO of Biogemma, “With the impressive increase of genomics sequences into crops, we’ve found the sequence capture technology developed by Roche NimbleGen a crucial technology to capture the maximum of genetic diversity in important genomics areas for major crops. Wheat and Canola are very valuable crops for our seed business shareholders and, due to their genome structure, remain very challenging to develop efficient molecular markers on a larger scale. Biogemma is strongly convinced that this strategic partnership with Roche NimbleGen will result in the development of a targeted sequence capture technology for such crops. This will significantly enhance our gene discovery capabilities and the development of numerous genetic markers linked to important traits for the benefit of our shareholders. Importantly, this will also speed their breeding programs and reduce their time to market, both of which will have a significant impact on agriculture.”

Biogemma is a leading agricultural biotech company in Europe involved in Genomics applied to Field Crops. Result of the merger of the biotech activity of three major seed business companies specialized in plant improvement, Vilmorin Company ( Limagrain Group), Euralis and RAGT and with the help of two financial institutions Sofiproteol and Unigrain with the support of the technical agency Arvalis, the company is developing R&D programs with its partners, in 4 major field crops : Corn, Wheat, Sunflower and Rapeseed. Their primary focus is the greatest challenge in agriculture: to explain, explore and enrich the genetic diversity of those crops with the aims of yield improvement, low input of fertilizers, biotic and abiotic stresses tolerances and quality and speciality grain compounds.

Biogemma is committed to using an environmentally responsible approach and the latest technology to enable crop breeders to develop innovative plant products and food chains, a primary reason why Roche NimbleGen engaged in this synergistic partnership.

Roche NimbleGen is a leading innovator, manufacturer, and supplier of a proprietary suite of DNA microarrays, consumables, instruments, and services. Roche NimbleGen uniquely produces high-density arrays of long oligo probes that provide greater information content and higher data quality necessary for studying the full diversity of genomic and epigenomic variation. The improved performance is made possible by Roche NimbleGen’s proprietary Maskless Array Synthesis (MAS) technology, which uses digital light processing and rapid, high-yield photochemistry to synthesize long oligo, high-density DNA microarrays with extreme flexibility. For more information about Roche NimbleGen, please visit the company’s website at

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world’s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, and is a market leader in virology. It is also active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory and metabolic disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. In 2007 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totaled 36.8 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 9.3 billion francs. Roche has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, and invested over 8 billion Swiss francs in R&D in 2007. Worldwide, the Group employs about 80,000 people. Additional information is available on the Internet at

NIMBLEGEN is a trademark of Roche.

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Roche Diagnostics Dr. Burkhard Ziebolz Phone: +49 8856 604830 Email: or Roche NimbleGen Kary Staples Phone +1 608 218 7623 Email: or Biogemma Pascual Perez Phone: +33 4 73 42 79 70 Email:

Source: Roche NimbleGen

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