DURHAM – Avalo, a Durham-based startup with ties to Duke University, has raised an additional $500,000 from two investors, according to an SEC filing.

The company describes itself as “generating crop resilience through gene discovery for a healthier and fuller world” on the company’s LinkedIn webpage.  It raised $2.9 million in equity in July 2021 from six investors, according to a prior SEC filing.

According to the most recent filing, which was signed by co-founder and CEO Brendan Collins earlier this month, the new funding includes an option, warrant, or right to acquire another security, and the funding round could close as high as $1.1 million.

An August 2021 TechCrunch article explained the firm had “built a model for simulating the effects of changes to a plant’s genome, which they claim can reduce that 15-year lead time to two or three and the cost by a similar ratio.”

“We’re using interpretable machine learning to accelerate biological production and crop development,” a header on the company’s website reads.

The company takes what it calls “a novel AI approach for genome scans and identification” to identify genes, then generates its predictive models, according to Avalo.

“The ability to just find genes and then do something with them is actually pretty limited as these traits become more complicated,” Mariano Alvarez, co-founder and CSO of Avalo is quoted as telling reporter Devin Coldewey of TechCrunch. “Trying to increase the efficiency of an enzyme is easy, you just go in with CRISPR and edit it — but increasing yield in corn, there are thousands, maybe millions of genes contributing to that. If you’re a big strategic [e.g., Monsanto] trying to make drought-tolerant rice, you’re looking at 15 years, 200 million dollars … it’s a long play.”

Avalo appeared on a list of firms with ties to Duke University published by WRAL TechWire in September 2020.

The company could not be reached for comment.