RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARKAgBiome, the fast-growing agricultural technology firm that harnesses plant microbiomes to develop novel crop protection products, has teamed up with agtech firm Genective.

The end game: to develop biotech corn traits resistant to Lepidopteran and coleopteran, the most  common species of insect pests in maize.

In a statement today, RTP-based AgBiome said the strategic partnership is intended to “establish a new leader in insect traits with an annual opportunity over $5 billion.”

“This partnership marries AgBiome’s industry-best trait discovery platform with Genective’s access to key germplasm and breeding resources,” said Eric Ward, Co-CEO of AgBiome, in a statement.

“Together we have vastly increased the value proposition around trait development for both companies. Growers are eager for new solutions and our partnership will deliver them.”

AgBiome, a 2013 spinout from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, raised $34.5 million in 2015. It has also received investments form Harris and Harris Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

AgBiome uses the plant microbiome to identify and develop genetic traits that provide resistance to pests. Its Genesis platform screens trillions of microbes, millions of gene sequences, and thousands of strains. It has discovered 3,500 new insect control genes and 200 active lead strains.

Illinois-based Genective is a a joint venture between Limagrain and KWS, two of the world’s largest seed companies.

With entities in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, Genective is currently dedicated to the research, development, and commercialization of transgenic traits.

Transgenic plants have genes from another species inserted into their genetic makeup. These genes can come from another plant or from another organism, such as a bacterium. The inserted genes modify the plant to improve traits such as resistance to disease, pests, herbicides, and stress or to increase crop yield and quality.

“This is a key partnership during the exciting time at Genective, when we are expanding our investment and team in the U.S. with the vision of growing Genective into a globally impactful contributor to agriculture through biotechnology,” said Qiaoni Linda Jing, President and CEO of Genective, in a statement.

“The complementary resources and capabilities Genective and AgBiome bring into the partnership will deliver innovations paramount to the future success of growers and the agriculture industry.”

AgBiome’s $65M in new funding a ‘watershed moment’ for the RTP agtech firm

Gates Foundation provides more funding for crop research at RTP-based AgBiome