BioConsortia, Inc., has been granted a patent for its Advanced Microbial Selection (AMS) process by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Issuance of the patent marks an important milestone in the company’s development, protecting its prominent position in the arena of plant microbiome research and affording BioConsortia a unique, proprietary R&D platform 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; 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 in this way results in a rapid evolution of the plant microbiome towards a community enriched with beneficial microbes. Plant gene expression and microbiome analyses performed throughout the process give insight into which organisms are contributing to the beneficial effects.
The main benefits of the AMS technology platform are that the microbes have been pre-selected through the process to be good plant colonizers. These microbes are compatible with and performing complementary functions to 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. A typical AMS experiment discovers several consortia ready for field testing after just 9 months of research compared to multiple years using conventional methods.
Consistent with agricultural global needs and concerns, 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 that are helping the plant overcome the imposed pressure. Current R&D focus is on nitrogen use efficiency; tolerance to drought, cold and wet conditions; and control of fungal diseases, nematodes and corn root worm. Products are designed to improve on best available agronomic practice – complementing effects or enhancing plant performance in the presence of chemical fungicide and insecticide seed treatments or GM traits. Experimental formulations have been used to field test a number of leads in corn, wheat and soybean in the U.S., E.U., and New Zealand, with planned expansion into Latin America and additional crops later in 2015.
“This secures BioConsortia a strong patent position that is complemented by our outstanding research team and internal know-how in the field of microbiome analysis and microbial product development,” said Meadows-Smith, CEO. “Our patents reinforce our leadership position and enable the launch of highly efficacious and consistent products.”
BioConsortia is independently pursuing impactful 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. AMS offers an innovative and efficient way to discover such solutions, assisting growers in reducing their input costs and impact on the environment.
The AMS patent is the first US patent granted from a series of patent applications filed by BioConsortia related to the AMS process and microbial consortia for plant enhancement.