The Company

  • Nemgenix plant tissue laboratoriesNemgenix plant tissue laboratories
  • Nemgenix transgenic wheat plants under evaluationNemgenix transgenic wheat plants under evaluation

Nemgenix is an international agricultural biotechnology company developing new technologies for the control of plant parasitic nematodes and aphids.

The company was founded by Sean Hird and Mike Jones in 2007 with the aim to innovate in the field of nematode and aphid control.

Both nematodes and aphids are significant pests of the world’s major crops against which there is limited natural resistance. In particular, plant parasitic nematodes are devastating root pathogens causing global losses of US$125bn+ pa. These small thread-like worms are endemic in all soil types and reduce yields through impaired water and nutrient uptake and increased susceptibility to other root pathogens. Likewise, losses from aphids are also very high due to the physical damage they cause and their role as a vector for plant viruses and other invasive organisms. It is estimated that aphids are the primary vector for 50% of all known plant viruses.

Building on the expertise and experience of Mike Jones, an internationally regarded expert in the field of plant nematology and virology, Nemgenix has focussed on the development of novel RNAi-based crop traits to confer nematode and aphid resistance. RNA interference (‘RNAi’) is an endogenous gene silencing mechanism found in plants and other organisms which can be exploited through the design of biotech traits. Nemgenix has successfully shown proof-of-concept of its utility in a range of plant species. This work has led to a number of patent filings which are now being prosecuted in all major territories.

Nemgenix is currently working with several corporate partners to progress its RNAi-based nematode control traits with field trials anticipated in 2014. Nemgenix is constructing specially designed field trial plots where nematode populations can be manipulated and soil conditions modelled, to reflect field conditions in a range of key growing areas.

In 2012 Nemgenix’s Crop Protection Unit was formed to undertake the development of an integrated in silico pesticide discovery platform known as ‘i-QUEST™’. This will combine with the company’s bioassay systems and field trial resources to provide a ‘screen to field’ pesticide development capability. In the case of nematodes, the use of chemical controls is often limited by environmental legislation and cost which has resulted in increased demand for new nematicides. The i-QUEST™ platform is currently being used to exploit this opportunity.

Nemgenix has research and development facilities in Perth, Australia at the Western Australia State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre and also in Harpenden, UK. Nemgenix has a team of 10 full-time researchers.

The company secured seed investment in 2008 from Stone Ridge Ventures, an Australian venture capital firm, and has been awarded numerous government grants.