Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Ginkgo Bioworks

Harnessing microorganisms for crop protection

Agriculture & Energy

A partnership aims to speed up the development of products that help plants grow and fight disease without chemicals

Spotted: Farmers often apply chemical pesticides and antibiotics to address crop diseases and strengthen plant defences against abiotic stress. However, these treatments are not only expensive but can also have environmentally damaging side effects. One solution is to use tailor-made microorganisms for crop protection, and this is exactly what Chilean company Exacta Bioscience is doing.

Exacta formulates combinations of microorganisms designed for soil enhancement and the protection of crops against specific diseases. The products are designed to be used in place of pesticides and antibiotics.

Some of the products the company is developing include FitoRoot, which is composed of three strains of Bacillus and designed to stimulate plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria to help crops better absorb water; FitoBac FT, which includes three strains of bacteriophages designed to fight bacterial cancer in stone fruit and kiwi; and FitoBac NT, which uses strains of bacteriophages to fight bacterial blight in walnut and hazelnut plants.

The company recently announced a partnership with US-based Ginkgo Bioworks to leverage Ginkgo’s end-to-end agricultural research and development (R&D) services to scale up the production of Exacta’s FitoRoot product. Exacta will use Ginko’s fermentation and formulation services to reduce the cost of producing FitoRoot and make it more competitive.

As awareness grows of the environmental dangers of using chemical fertilisers, Springwise is spotting more innovations aimed at finding more sustainable solutions. In the archive, find affordable, low-carbon fertilisers and the use of microbes to turn methane into soil nutrients.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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