Illumina announces Donald Danforth plant science center to receive agricultural greater good initiative grant to improve food security in sub-saharan africa

Project Leverages HiSeq X Ten System to Accelerate Grain Sorghum Breeding

SAN DIEGO (BUSINESS WIRE)—June 7, 2016—Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) today announced that the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the 2016 recipient of the Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grant. Their project aims to optimize breeding strategies for improving the yield and stress tolerance of grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), a critical source of nutrition to millions of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grant program is designed to help identify measures that can increase crop yields and improve livestock welfare and productivity to alleviate poverty and hunger in the developing world.

Todd Mockler, PhD, Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and co-PI Jeremy Schmutz, at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, will study the genetic diversity of grain sorghum leveraging the HiSeq X® Ten System at HudsonAlpha. NRGene’s proprietary PanMAGICTM computational platforms will be used to construct the first ever sorghum pan-genome.

Sorghum is a member of the grass family and is grown worldwide. It is of particular interest, not only because it is a staple crop in Sub-Saharan Africa, but because grain sorghum yields have been declining due to the lack of new varieties that are resistant to pests and pathogens. Sorghum is very resilient to drought and heat stress. Natural genetic diversity in sorghum makes it a promising system for identifying stress-resistance mechanisms in grasses that may have been lost during the domestication of related cereal crops.

“A comprehensive understanding of the pan-genome sequence of this cereal crop will enable breeders to design and optimize their breeding strategies and improve grain sorghum yields,” said Dr. Mockler. “I’m grateful to Illumina for this opportunity to use next-generation sequencing to improve grain sorghum breeding because it’s essential to improving yields and enhancing food security in the developing world.”

“It’s a pleasure to work with Dr. Mockler and Illumina to sequence grain sorghum using the HiSeq X Ten system, constructed at HudsonAlpha by Dr. Shawn Levy and his team,” said Mr. Schmutz. “While the system is deployed now to identify causal genetic variants in human disease, we look forward to applying it to optimize plants like sorghum, a critical crop for the socioeconomic stability and food security of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Illumina is committed to unlocking the power of the genome to improve human health. This program recognizes that there is nothing more fundamental to human health than nutrition,” said Dawn Barry, VP, Applied Genomics. “We are proud to be supporting Todd Mockler’s work at the Danforth Center and excited to see the HiSeq X Ten System in place at HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology being used to aid in this sequencing project. To our knowledge, this is the first time since we opened the HiSeq X technology to whole-genome sequencing of nonhuman species that it has been used to benefit a public breeding program.”

The Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grants, launched in 2011, are awarded annually. The program spurs critically needed research that will increase the sustainability, productivity, and nutritional density of agriculturally important crop and livestock species. Grant recipients receive donations of Illumina products to support their projects. Applications for the 2017 Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grants will be available in Q3 2016.

For more information about Illumina products for agrigenomics, visit

About Illumina
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit and follow @illumina.

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 HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across the spectrum of biological challenges. Founded in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific research centers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and includes 32 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit:

About NRGene
NRGene is a genomic big data company developing cutting-edge software and algorithms to reveal the complexity and diversity of crop plants, animals, and aquatic organisms for the most advanced, sophisticated genetic research and breeding. NRGene tools have already been employed by some of the leading seed companies as well the most influential teams in academia.

Illumina Forward-Looking Statements
This release may contain forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in any forward-looking statements are detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent filings on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, or in information disclosed in public conference calls, the date and time of which are released beforehand. We do not intend to update any forward-looking statements after the date of this release.

Illumina Inc.
Rebecca Chambers
[email protected]
Gwen Gordon
[email protected]

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Melanie Bernds
[email protected]

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Margetta Thomas
[email protected]

Daphna Tako

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