Thousand Oaks-based Ceres Inc., an ag-biotech company, was awarded a patent in Australia for a trait that allows growers to increase yields without increasing crop inputs like fertilizer.
The patent extends intellectual property protection to the Australian market of a key gene that Ceres has licensed to a multinational crop developer. It covers uses of the gene in crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat among others. For Ceres, it’s a small victory as the company tries to stay afloat during a corporate restructuring.
Ceres plans to offer seed companies a license to the technology in crops not already licensed. Experimental results have demonstrated significant yield increases in several plant species, the company said in a news release.
Since its founding in 1996, Ceres has lost $332.1 million. Between 2012 and June 2015, Ceres cut its staff from 96 to 44 employees worldwide. The only profitable years in the company’s history were 2003, 2005 and 2006.
For years, Ceres invested heavily in developing bio-fuels made from sorghum in Brazil. In June, the company announced a restructuring plan to focus the company’s resources on developing seeds for food and forage crops like alfalfa and corn.
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