The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent to BioConsortia, Inc. for its advanced microbial selection (AMS).
BioConsortia, based in Davis, Calif., calls the patent an important milestone in the company’s efforts in plant microbiome research to rapidly identify teams of microbes and develop products that protect and enhance crop yields.
The AMS technology transforms the approach to microbial R&D by reversing conventional methodology by putting efficient and harmonious plant colonization at the forefront of experimentation.
Plants are grown through iterative rounds of plant-microbe selection and judged on a variety of yield-relevant phenotypic indicators, including the ability to withstand environmental stresses.
Selecting for the most favorable plant-microbe interactions results in the rapid evolution of the plant microbiome to create beneficial microbes. Plant gene expression and microbiome analyses determine which organisms contribute to beneficial effects.
The main benefits of the AMS technology are that the microbes have been pre-selected through the process to be good plant colonizers. These microbes work well with other microbes in the consortia, and survive the presence of standard chemical crop inputs.
New products can now be discovered and developed far more efficiently than by traditional microbial and plant breeding methods.
BioConsortia says a typical AMS experiment discovers several consortia ready for field testing after just nine months of research, compared to multiple years using conventional methods.
BioConsortia’s targets for natural trait enhancement include abiotic stress tolerance, general growth improvement, fertilizer use efficiency, and biotic resistance.
Stresses applied throughout the AMS processes direct the plants selection of microbes to harness those microorganisms; helping the plant to overcome the imposed pressure.
Current research and development is on nitrogen use efficiency; tolerance to drought, cold, and wet conditions; and the control of fungal diseases, nematodes and corn root worm.
BioConsortia is pursuing solutions for select crops and traits, and working in collaboration with other organizations on specified projects.
Microbials have garnered considerable attention from leading agricultural companies in recent years due to a push for sustainable solutions to feeding the growing global population.