RALEIGH … A microarray developed by North Carolina State University researchers is the first product in an AgBiotech business program being formed by Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A) that incorporates elements of the gene expression, agricultural and food safety industries.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Agilent plans to build upon its existing advanced microarray and microfluidics (bioanalyzer) technology platforms to develop a full range of AgBio-specific products and applications to address an estimated total available market of more than $500 million.

The first product to be introduced as part of the new program is the Agilent Magnaporthe grisea Oligo Microarray Kit (G4137A), the industry’s first commercial microarray to include genetic probes from two genomes on one microarray, specifically rice blast (Magnaporthe grisea) and rice. The microarray was developed in collaboration with researchers at N.C. State.

Rice blast, a filamentous fungus, is responsible for rice blast disease, which destroys enough rice to feed 60 million people each year. The unique design of this microarray enables agricultural and biotech researchers to examine the molecular basis of plant diseases and develop environmentally sounds strategies to improve food quality.

“Rice blast and rice together constitute a model system for studying fungal infection in plants,” Ralph Dean, professor of plant pathology and director of the Fungal Genomics Laboratory at N.C. State, said in a statement. “By having two genomes on one microarray, we will be able to study host-pathogen interactions between plants and fungi in a way that was never before possible.”

Mary Pat Knauss, manager of the AgBiotech program, said that the program addresses the needs of agriculture science and food industries in biological research and the detection of pathogens, biological agents or genetically modified organisms in food.

“As concerns about food quality and labeling worldwide increase, so is the demand for these advanced biological analysis techniques,” Knauss said in the statement.

Agilent Technologies: www.agilent.com