The Quest to improve nitrogen use efficiency in corn and soybeans prompted Monsanto to collaborate with an ag biotech company called Evogene. Under an agreement between the two companies, Monsanto may use genes discovered by Evogene to improve nitrogen use in plants. According to Monsanto, the genes from Evogene “are complementary to the nitrogen utilization genes already in testing in Monsanto's pipeline and could provide the opportunity to further a series of upgrades for this key target area.”
Monsanto claims that nitrogen fertilizer represents one-fifth of the operating costs for a corn producer. Finding the genetic keys that help a corn plant absorb and use more nitrogen will help a grower lower costs and improve profitability. The potential market for such a genetic trait is great.