Ceres Inc. announced Friday that it has received an Australian patent for a gene that increases crop yields without increasing the need for fertilizer or other resources for growth. The patent protects the gene being used in produce such as corn, soybean, sugarcane and wheat. The Thousand Oaks biotech has previously licensed the gene to a multinational crop developer and plans on offering the trait to seed companies that have crops not already licensed for the technology. “We believe that our next generation traits can provide multiple opportunities for producers to increase productivity, reduce inputs and make greater use of marginal cropland,” Richard Hamilton, chief executive of Ceres, said in a statement. The patent was issued by government patent agency IP Australia and is due to expire in 2030. Ceres shares closed unchanged at 24 cents on the Nasdaq.