CRISPR & Nanobiotechnology 🧬

Syngenta's genome editing platform, BioLumic's innovative seed treatments, seedless blackberries and plant nanobiotechnology

Good morning, readers!

Exciting things are happening in agricultural technology! This week, there's much to explore, from plant science to new indoor farming facilities.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 - 10 Minutes

Syngenta Opens Rights For Genome Editing & Breeding Technology

Image provided by Syngenta

Granting Access To Its Genome-Editing & Breeding Technologies

Syngenta Group offers rights to selected genome editing and breeding technologies for academic research globally. This initiative aims to foster innovation and drive sustainability in agriculture.

What Does The IP Right Include?

The intellectual property rights include optimized CRISPR-Cas12a and gene-editing-enabled breeding tools. Using CRISPR gene editing, improved plants can be created more quickly and efficiently than through conventional breeding methods or in nature without including DNA from a different species.

Gusui Wu, Head of Global Seeds Research at Syngenta, emphasized the potential of CRISPR technology to revolutionize crop innovation and deliver value to farmers. By inviting universities and academic institutions worldwide to collaborate, Syngenta aims to drive innovation and enhance sustainability in agriculture.

Now What?

Syngenta is committed to sharing its technology with public and private entities for research use. The Shoots by Syngenta platform, launched in 2023, aims to create partnerships to address challenges in food and agriculture. It brings together academics, research institutes, and Syngenta's scientists to develop solutions for climate change, biodiversity, and farmers.

BioLumic - Harnessing UVB Light to Transform Agriculture

Image provided by Biolumic

Foundation and Strategic Direction

BioLumic was founded in 2013 by Jason Wargent, Ph.D., a leader in plant photobiology. The company is the fruit of his extensive research into how UVB light affects plant genetics. BioLumic integrates artificial intelligence with plant science to deliver short, powerful light treatments to seeds and young plants to sustainably enhance crop resilience and productivity. Steve Sibulkin joined BioLumic in 2020 as CEO to lead BioLumic’s commercialization. Sibulkin brought the company considerable experience from leading agricultural innovations at Adapt-N and Agoro Carbon Alliance,

Image provided by Biolumic

Revolutionizing Seed Treatment

BioLumic’s approach transforms seed treatment by integrating UVB light exposure, drastically accelerating seed trait innovation. "Our In-Seed Light Treatment™ technology, which takes just seconds to apply, is years faster than traditional breeding methods and circumvents the regulatory complexities of genetic modification," the CEO explains. In partnership with seed producers like Gro Alliance, this method allows for scalable application at the seed treatment stage, making treated seeds available for crucial crops like corn and soybeans.

Sustainable Agricultural Practices

BioLumic's technology aligns closely with environmental sustainability goals. The treatment requires minimal electricity and involves no genetic modification or chemicals. Instead, it uses a brief, safe exposure to UVB light, enhancing plant growth and resilience naturally. "This method is wholly environmentally friendly, unlocking new environmental benefits like higher yields without additional inputs and lower crop system emissions," states the CEO.

Educating the Agriculture Sector

Despite BioLumic’s scientific basis for its technology in photomorphogenesis, the agricultural industry is largely unaware of its potential benefits. As a pioneering application in agriculture, BioLumic spends significant time discussing its approach and demonstrating its effectiveness. The CEO emphasizes, "Because light treatments are a truly ‘frontier innovation,’ we spend a lot of time simply answering questions and educating about the powerful impact of our light treatments on crop innovation."

Targeted Crops and Expansion Plans

BioLumic's technology has been validated across 12 crops, focusing on essential crops such as corn, soybeans, and rice. Additionally, the company is exploring applications for low-emission forage grasses that support improved metabolic efficiency in livestock (and therefore less methane emissions) and capturing high-value consumer benefits for crops like cannabis, enhancing traits like higher terpene profiles. Partnerships with industry leaders like Fluence are instrumental in tailoring light treatments for optimal results.

Vision for 2030

Looking ahead to 2030, BioLumic anticipates broad implementation of its UVB light treatments, mirroring the transformative impact of the Genetic  Revolution on agriculture. "No trait technology can be implemented and scaled as rapidly as UVB light signaling," the CEO asserts. “BioLumic is poised to play a crucial role in evolving agricultural practices to be more sustainable and productive to meet the urgent challenges of climate change, resource limitations, and global food demand.”

BioLumic represents a significant shift in agricultural technology, using light to naturally enhance plant growth and resilience. By providing an innovative, sustainable solution that meets the needs of both large-scale and smallholder farmers, BioLumic is setting the stage for a future where agricultural innovation can keep pace with global challenges. Through education, strategic partnerships, and continuous development, BioLumic aims to revolutionize crop cultivation, contributing to a more sustainable and abundant global food system.

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Pairwise Unveils First Seedless Blackberry & Grants Licensing Agreement To Solis Agrosciences

Image provided by Pairwise

This week, Pairwise announced the world’s first seedless Blackberry developed using its proprietary Fulcrum™ Platform and announced a licensing agreement with Solis AgroSciences.

Solis AgroSciences’ Comprehensive Access to Advanced CRISPR Tools

Licensees of the Fulcrum Platform, such as Solis Agrosciences, can access Pairwise’s comprehensive suite of novel technologies and proprietary tools. These tools are designed for researching, developing, and commercializing products with differentiated plant genetics. Solis, known for providing robust product design and R&D services to a diverse range of plant science clients, will use the Fulcrum Platform to accelerate scientific breakthroughs and facilitate the commercialization process.

Solis plans first to utilize the Fulcrum Platform to develop new plant traits. Once these traits are ready to transition from R&D to commercialization, Solis’ clients can secure commercial licenses through Pairwise, enabling them to efficiently bring their CRISPR-edited products to market.

A Breakthrough in Berry Innovation

Pairwise's Chief Technology Officer, Ryan Bartlett, expressed excitement over this milestone. “Pairwise scientists have used their deep knowledge of plant genetics, broad suite of CRISPR tools, and multiplex editing techniques to eliminate the hard pits in berry fruit, creating soft, small seeds like those found in grapes and watermelon that are commonly labeled as seedless,” Bartlett stated. “The result is the first seedless blackberry in the world. We expect this trait will not only transform the blackberry market but also lay the groundwork for accelerated progress in removing seeds and pits in many other fruits such as cherries.”

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Pioneering Plant Nanobiotechnology

Image generated by DALL-E

Researchers in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University are at the forefront of an emerging field known as Plant Nanobiotechnology. Drawing on findings from nanomedicine and digital twin technologies, these researchers aim to address unsustainable agricultural practices and meet the growing global food demand.

Leveraging Nanomedicine for Agricultural Innovation

“We found that the challenges of using nanocarriers to deliver nutrients in plants parallel those in nanomedicine, which has the advantage of being an established and well-studied field,” said Professor Greg Lowry. “While there are some key differences between plants and animals, many important parts of our research have been informed by nanomedicine, including identifying nanocarrier designs that can ensure active agents are effectively packaged, delivered, and released where they are needed.”

The Role of Digital Twin Technologies

One of the innovative approaches explored in the study is using digital twins—advanced modeling technologies widely used in infrastructure management, predictive maintenance, and manufacturing. Digital twins can analyze a structure and its surrounding conditions, process information, and use it to inform, predict, and modify real-world outcomes.

Just as medical researchers use “digital patients” to simulate drug interactions within the body, Lowry and his team propose creating “digital plants” to assess the efficacy of different nanocarrier designs. These digital models would enable precise targeting of nutrient delivery to specific plant organs, improving the effectiveness and resilience of the plants, and ultimately boosting agricultural productivity.

Soli Organic Unveils State-of-the-Art Indoor Vertical Farm in San Antonio

Image provided by Soli Organic

Soli Organic Inc. announced the opening of its most technologically advanced facility yet. Located in San Antonio’s Brooks Community, formerly Brooks Air Force Base, this new indoor vertical farm integrates cutting-edge technology to bolster the local economy, enhance regional food security, and create a variety of employment opportunities.

How Big Is It?

The new facility spans 140,000 square feet, including 100,000 square feet dedicated to production and six vertical layers of growing capacity. An additional 40,000 square feet is allocated for processing and packing. This strategic expansion will meet the growing demand from retailers and consumers for high-quality, sustainably grown organic produce in the Texas Triangle and the broader Southwest region.

What Is The Anticipated Impact?

Brooks Community President and CEO Leo Gomez welcomed Soli Organic, emphasizing the area’s pioneering spirit. “The introduction of Soli Organic’s facility marks a new chapter in our history of fostering innovation and sustainable initiatives. Soli Organic’s presence reinforces our ag-tech leadership, stimulates economic development in Southeast San Antonio, and improves the quality of life for the Brooks region.”

The facility is expected to create over 100 jobs, including many high-wage, high-skill positions in horticulture and manufacturing. These new jobs will provide diverse career paths and contribute significantly to the local community’s economic vitality.

Key Updates from Lavoro, IntelliCulture, RiceTec, NRGene, and More

Image provided by Mucci Farms

🇧🇷 Lavoro reported a 6% increase in revenue for 3Q24, reaching $514.2 million. The Crop Care segment, in particular, demonstrated robust performance, with revenue rising by 30% to $22.1 million and gross profit increasing by 14% to $9.1 million.

💰 IntelliCulture has announced the successful completion of a $3.5 million funding round. This investment was led by Serra Ventures and supported by Emmertech and Tall Grass Ventures.

🌾 RiceTec and its Indian affiliate Savannah Seeds have introduced the FullPage® Rice Cropping Solution to the Indian market. FullPage is specifically designed for direct-seeded rice (DSR) and combines SmartRice® genetics, SQUAD™ seed treatment, the FullPage unique IMI herbicide tolerance trait, and ADAMA’s Vezir herbicide.

🌽 NRGene (TASE: NRGN), and Mas Seeds announced the completion of a major milestone in their 4-year collaboration. This partnership, initiated over a year ago, aims to enhance Mas Seeds’ maize breeding program and significantly reduce genotyping costs by utilizing NRGene’s genotyping and imputation solution, SNPer™.

🇺🇸 Meteor Systems has partnered with Hort Americas to supply the North American market with HDPE floating rafts. This collaboration marks a significant step towards a waste-free future for the greenhouse industry. It aims to introduce these innovative rafts to North America and educate growers about the latest water cultivation techniques.

🇲🇽 The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a substantial grant of up to USD 21.1 million to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) for an ambitious initiative aimed at mitigating agriculture’s environmental impact.

🤝 Phospholutions announced an official partnership with WeGrow AG to commercially launch RhizoSorb®, a new phosphorus fertilizer solution aimed at enhancing sustainable agricultural practices.

🔬 DPH Biologicals announced the launch of its innovative Prime platform. This platform uses a patented production process for Bacillus spp. to accelerate the germination of bacterial spores. This advancement supports overall plant development and provides crops with greater resilience against heat, drought, and alkaline and saline soil conditions.

🌱 Pivot Bio announced that its customers have collectively reduced carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions by over 932,000 metric tons (MT) since the beginning of 2022. The emission savings are comparable to the annual emissions of two-and-one-half gas-fired power plants.

💵 Indigo Ag announced substantial updates to its carbon program aimed at maximizing financial returns for farmers and agribusiness partners. These enhancements simplify the participation process and expand access to new sustainability markets, including carbon and Scope 3 programs, as well as biofuel tax credits like 45Z.

🤝 AgZen announced a strategic partnership with WHIN (Wabash Heartland Innovation Network), a prominent nonprofit dedicated to accelerating the adoption of advanced technologies in the Wabash Heartland region of Indiana.

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