AgriDyne Technologies Inc. has received a $1.2 millionadvanced technology grant from the National Institute ofStandards and Technology to develop genetically engineeredpyrethrin, a biodegradable insecticide with low toxicity formammals that is found in chrysanthemum-type flowers.

AgriDyne has identified the enzyme in the chrysanthemumthat creates the form of pyrethrin molecule that is active as aninsecticide. Company scientists are attempting to put the genefrom that enzyme into a microorganism, which would producelarge quantities of pyrethrin.

The Salt Lake City company will more than match theDepartment of Commerce grant, and will spend more than $3million over the next three years to develop a method toincrease domestic pyrethrin supplies. Genetically engineeredpyrethrin will provide a larger and more reliable supply thannatural extract, most of which is produced in eastern Africa,with greater potency at less cost, said Eric Hale, president andchief executive officer.

"The worldwide market for the natural pyrethrin molecule isestimated to be around $100 million," Hale told BioWorld. "Ithas been estimated that the market potential is two to fourtimes that if there was a reliable supply."

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