Groundwork BioAg Ltd., a bioagriculture company with main operations in Israel, has announced the signing of a globally exclusive license agreement to develop, produce and commercialize mycorrhizal strains isolated and bred at the Agricultural Research Organization's (ARO's) Volcani Center. The agreement also includes exclusive rights to proprietary production methods that were developed at the center over the last two decades.

ARO is part of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The organization is responsible for most of the agricultural research conducted in Israel. And Groundwork BioAg plans to bring mycorrhizal inoculants to mainstream agriculture leveraging unique production technology.

Mycorrhizae refers to a naturally-occurring symbiotic relationship between fungi and plants. These “good” fungi effectively extend plants’ root systems and increase their ability to absorb nutrients in the soil. Numerous crops, including small grains, require the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in order to grow to their full potential, the news announcement states.

When applied to agricultural crops, Groundwork’s mycorrhizal inoculants significantly increase yields while reducing fertilizer requirements, and can also repel several soil-borne pathogens, such as pythium and fusarium, according to Groundwork BioAg.  

Controlled field trials conducted by Groundwork and by ARO have demonstrated double-digit yield increases in several crops, including corn, bell pepper, sunflower and banana. Groundwork's mycorrhizal inoculants are highly concentrated, pure and vigorous, and thus able to reach efficacy rates that are sufficient for mainstream agricultural products, it was further explained.

Prof. Yoram Kapulnik, the center’s executive director and renowned mycorrhiza expert, said, “Groundwork is the commercial culmination of over twenty years of research and development conducted here at the Volcani Center. I am proud to chair Groundwork’s Scientific Advisory Board. Groundwork’s success is our success.”

Yossi Kofman, Ph.D., Groundwork’s CEO, added, “Mycorrhizal fungi have been known to improve crop yields and to repel soil-borne pathogens for decades. Such products have thus far been limited to niche markets due to the challenges in producing mycorrhizal inoculants in high concentration. With ARO’s technology, Groundwork is set to change this paradigm and to bring mycorrhiza to mainstream agriculture.”

Groundwork BioAg Ltd. develops, produces and commercializes mycorrhizal inoculants for mainstream agriculture. For more information, you can visit www.groundworkbioag.com.

The ARO reportedly has an extensive research infrastructure that supports both basic and applied research, conducted by more than 200 Ph.D. scientists and 300 engineers and technicians. Numerous breeds, methods and technologies have been developed at ARO and successfully transferred to commercial markets in the form of private and public agritech companies. For more information, you can visit www.agri.gov.il.